Planning permission was unanimously granted last night for a beautiful new plaza in the south of the Park in the area between ArcelorMittal Orbit, the Aquatics Centre and the Stadium.
The South Plaza, the public space at the heart of the South Park, will be a dynamic, landscaped area dedicated to entertainment and cultural activities, offering new experiences for each visit.
During Games-time the South Plaza was occupied by temporary cafes, shops and toilet facilities. These will be removed to leave an 11.3 hectare space, (28 acre) equivalent to 16 football pitches, for the new Plaza.
The plans will see this area transformed into beautiful new parkland – contributing to the Legacy Corporation’s plans to double the open space inside Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in comparison to Games-time.
James Corner Field Operations, the landscape architects responsible for the award winning High Line in New York have designed the Plaza. Planting designer Piet Oudolf, who was also involved in the High Line, has designed a five metre ribbon of perennial planting which will edge each of the Plaza’s features.
The backbone of the South Plaza will be a 12m wide tree-lined promenade, opening onto a series of outdoor ‘rooms’, each with a distinctive character. They include an interactive ‘labyrinth’ fountain, a classic carousel, a space for impromptu performances, a music room and a play space with climbing wall descending to the canal-side.
There will also be a park hub adjacent to the ArcelorMittal Orbit housing a cafe, box office and roof-top pavilion with spectacular views across the Park.
The Legacy Corporation aims to open the South Park in spring 2014, following the phased opening of the North Park from 27 July 2013 – exactly one year after the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and Chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said:
“The South Plaza will be a stunning legacy for London, framed by some of the most iconic sights of the 2012 Games. Not only will it form an integral part of the new community we are creating in east London, but this fantastic space will draw millions of visitors each year as they flock to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.”
Dennis Hone, interim Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said:
“Achieving planning permission for the South Plaza is another milestone for the Legacy Corporation, bringing us one step closer to realising Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“Earlier this week the Legacy Corporation began to take control of the Olympic Park. Over the coming months as we inherit more of the Park from the Games organisers we will be able to move on to site and begin its transformation into a new part of the city and a truly unique public space.”
The South Plaza will be a place where local residents, businesses and organisations from further afield can take advantage of the unique park spaces. They will be able to host all types of activities from kids’ parties and food fairs to major carnivals and music events.
The promenade will be a place to stroll and people-watch, with permanent food kiosks as well as occasional market stalls, magical lighting, benches, porch swings and climbable abacus ladders.
It will contrast with the North Park which will be a green oasis with lawns, wetlands and canal paths, centred around an ecology themed visitor centre and play space.
The creation of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the Games will be one of the biggest construction projects in Europe. The 18 month transformation programme will lay the foundations for further development across east London over the next 20 years.
The transformation has three main objectives: To clear Games-time structures including temporary venues, bridges, walkways and roads; to connect the Park to the surrounding area with new roads, cycle and foot paths; and to complete permanent venues, bridges and parklands ready for residents’ and visitors’ everyday use.
To enable people to get onto the Park as quickly as possible, the Legacy Corporation has carefully planned its works to re-open the Park in phases, as each piece of work reaches completion.