While enjoying the gold fever I took a private view behind the scenes in the Athlete’s Village at the London 2012 Olympics.
The London Olympic Park was the first to be completed ahead of the venues and the biggest park to be built in Europe in over 150 years. It was also the first Olympic Park to have a Biodiversity Action Plan. It included making space for trees and wetland plants, birds and bats. Specific habitat development and protection for toad flax, egg laying sites for grass snakes, kingfisher and sand martin nesting banks and otter holts.
Among the achievements in the park has been the restoration of acid-contaminated land to create an urban riverside wetland. The restored area provides improved ecological connectivity and public access while helping protect 5000 local properties from the risk of flooding. The organising committee reported planting more than 300,000 plants, while putting in place plans to protect 40 particular native species found on the site.
With the Olympic and Paralympic Games complete and some of the infrastructure removed the parkland will double in size with the introduction of new trees and planting. It will have created 10km of access beside the River Lea that didn’t exist before and 35km of new cycling and walking routes. Among the stakeholders the site owned by Thames Water and managed by the London Wildlife Trust (LWT) while close by the Trust and the Field Studies Council are developing a classroom and nature engagement resources to encourage engagement with nature in the park.
During the games the Team GB occupied well positioned accommodation in the Olympic Village overlooking the Olympic park and stadium. Like most of the athletes’ accommodation it also made space for nature. The meadow-grass green roofs, complete with log-pile micro-habitats for invertebrates, help slow rainwater run-off. Set in the low-lying former dockland the village combines nature-rich relaxing spaces with utility with green and blue spaces to relax and enjoy which will also store and slow storm water in an area prone to flooding.
With the games over the Village in Stratford East while provide homes for more than 6,000 with the athletes residencies being refitted as 2,818 homes, including a mix of private and social housing. Provide much-needed affordable housing for east Londoners, this will be for many the true Olympic legacy along with its demonstration of a contemporary approach to the advantages of incorporating bi-diverse blue-green infrastructure into the new urban community spaces.
The London Games delivery authority have published their own report on the Olympic Park Green Infrastructure – sessions learned.