The London Legacy Development Corporation will create a community hub in the north of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after plans were approved yesterday.

Set within the lush parklands of the North Park, the community building and play space will become a centre for visitors and themed on the local ecology.

It will boast some of the most imaginative play facilities in the UK as children will be able to build dens, grow plants and investigate insects, or climb trees and play on a series of platform walkways, slides and bridges connected to trees. There will also be sand and water play activities where budding engineers can create dams and locks to mimic the changes made to the River Lea after the Games.

They will be centred around a hub building with a café, reception area, offices, toilets and a flexible space that can be used by schools and community groups. It will be timber clad to fit in with the natural environment with solar panels added to its roof for green energy.

The plans, which were approved last night by the Olympic Delivery Authority’s Planning Committee , have been designed by erect architecture which won a competition to design the scheme. The London Marathon Charitable Trust will be contributing to the cost of the play area.

The North Park will open in phases in 2013 with the South Park opening in spring 2014.

Andrew Altman, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said:

“The North Park will be the first area of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to open from July 2013. It will be one of the most beautiful green spaces in London with wetlands, clean waterways and beautiful parklands for everyone to enjoy.

“This hub will be at the heart of community life. We have designed an area that not only serves visitors, but encourages them to learn about the natural environment around them.

”The decision to approve our plans means we can start work on the community building and play space after the Games finish. It is another example of how London is further ahead in planning legacy than any previous Olympic Host City.”

John Bryant, Chairman of the London Marathon Charitable Trust, said:

“The Trust is delighted to be a major legacy funder of the North Hub Play Area. We are pleased that our £1 million grant for the extended play area will allow children of all ages to stretch their minds and bodies, using nature as a playground and taking on physical challenges that will build confidence and fitness.

“We are happy, too, to confirm our continued commitment to the provision of legacy facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where, in addition to the North Hub Park, the London Marathon Trust will be funding work at the VeloPark, the Aquatics Centre and the Community Athletics Track, all of which will help to achieve so much for the true legacy of the London 2012 Olympics – one which has been shared by the Trust for over 30 years – to ensure a lasting benefit for the whole community”

Barbara Kaucky, Director at Erect Architecture said:

“We are excited to be working with the London Legacy Development Corporation as we share a vision of creating a hub building and play park. We are confident that the facilities will become a go-to location for both locals and visitors from further afield.

“As local architects, the extraordinary Olympic project has been growing on our doorstep. It is a great feeling to be able to play a role in ensuring that the Games leave behind a sustainable legacy.”

The community hub will cover 1.75 hectares in total, with the building 550 sq m in area. Its café will seat 72 people inside and a further 120 outside. The 140 sq m of flexible space can be split into two separate rooms for community use or lessons.

The outside space will include a community events lawn for picnics, outdoor teaching sessions or small scale events which will be enclosed by a multi-stemmed hazel copse.

A Succession Garden will show the story of plant life-cycle with flowers and shrubs increasing in size with children able to experience the different colours, smells, sounds, scale and varying forms. An artist is currently being commissioned by the Legacy Corporation to create a series of play activities for children in the garden.

There will also be a Scots Pine Play Area where the woodland will provide an ecosystem in its own right with their highly textured and jigsaw-like layered bark providing niches for mosses and a host of insects which will in turn attract birds. The area will also include natural boulders, timber structures and rocks for exploratory play and climbing.

Park reopening

After the Games, the London Legacy Development Corporation will undertake one of Europe’s largest construction projects in creating the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 
Through careful planning, the North Park will begin to reopen from 27 July 2013 – exactly one year after the Olympics Opening Ceremony. In addition to the community hub the North Park will includes acres of vibrant green parklands and footpaths, perfect for picnics, walks and play.

Also here, the Multi-Use Arena, a 7,500 capacity indoor entertainment venue will host a range of community events, along with a yearly programme of high profile sports and concerts. The Legacy Corporation will celebrate the opening of the North Park with an event for local residents and visitors.

Visitors will be able to access the Park through entrances in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, in addition to pedestrian access through Eton Manor. The remainder of the North Park will open at the end of 2013, and will include the Lee Valley VeloPark and more access points for visitors.