London 2012 - Will the local environment be better?
This lesson focuses on the regeneration of the area that will be the Olympic Park. The Olympic Park will transform the area from a poor quality environment into a high quality urban park. Regeneration aims to transform the social, economic and environmental fortunes of an area. In reality the measure of success is mixed and often there are often unintended consequences.
- Human processes
How will the environment change?
Much of the 500 acre Olympic Park Site is polluted Brownfield; it will be cleaned and used to create the largest urban park in Europe. Fifty two pylons have been removed and 200 km of electricity cables moved underground. The Lea Valley’s polluted waterways will be cleaned and new wildlife habitats created including a major new inner city wetland habitat that will also play an important role in managing flood risk around the Park.
Will the changes bring improvements to quality of the environment and quality of life of local residents?
Access - around the waterways will be increased, encouraging local communities to enjoy and use the river for recreational activities. Jobs – Around 12,000 new permanent jobs will be created in the Olympic Park alone as well as thousands of temporary jobs. Infrastructure improvements – £17 billion will be spent on transport improvements, including extensions to the Docklands Light Railway) and East London rail lines. New housing – The Olympic Village will be converted into affordable housing after the Games finish. In total, there will be 9,000 new homes built. These will be mainly offered to key workers, for example, teachers and nurses.
New amenities – five of the new sports venues will remain for use by the local community.
Opponents argue that the Games will mean some people will lose out:
Local business – In a survey undertaken by the Thames Gateway Forum, 26% respondents replied that the Olympics will not be good for their organisation. Around nine per cent of the 212 businesses, which are required to move away by the end of the 2007, have yet to agree an exit strategy. For most, this is because they cannot afford the cost of relocation. Local residents –Despite offers of alternative accommodation and £8,500 compensation, a minority of residents, including the elderly and vulnerable groups are reluctant to move home. If they are still unwilling to move by the end of 2007, they will be legally evicted.
Use the Changing space and place in East London interactive to explore the Olympic site and the wider area.
How do you think the changes will affect local people and the local environment?
Use the interactive map to label the new Olympic buildings and changes landuse on a map extract or the area.
You can download and print off a copy each from the the OS Get-a-map service. Just go to and type in the following grid reference TQ381847 (you may have to pay for a paper copy).
Imaging the Olympic Park
Did you know?
The Olympic torch is a symbol of the Olympic Games. The torch is then transported to the host city of the upcoming Olympics by a torch relay. The runners have included athletes and celebrities. The Olympic Torch Relay ends on the day of the opening ceremony in the central stadium of the Games.
Over to you in the Olympic Park…
The moment London has been waiting for. The Olympic torch passes the crowd on the way into the stadium. The noise of the crowd roars as the London 2012 Olympics is about to be opened. You are live to air for BBC radio London.
- Describe the scene in the Olympic park
- What can you see and hear?
- What does it feel like to be there?
Use the image below to help you describe the scene on air.
Amazing changes - How much will the local environment change by 2012?
The 2012 Olympic site will improve the environment of a large area of London. The improvements will include:
Is it what the local people want? Plan a meeting for the local community. Use the Newham fact sheet.
The Lea valley will be converted into one of the largest urban parks created in Europe in 150 years
The natural river system of the valley will be restored, canals would be dredged and waterways widened. Birdwatchers and ecologists will be able to enjoy three hectares of new wetland habitat
The Olympic park itself will be used for recreation after the Olympics
Then have a debate by downloading the role play cards.
You will each take on the role of one of the people on the cards:
In groups decide if you think the Olympic Games will benefit the local people of Newham. A spokesperson from each group should feedback the group’s decision to the rest of the class.
Factory owner Lea Valley
Eastway Lee Valley cycle group
Local community spokesperson
Local councillor for Newham
Representative of the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority)
Local school leaver
Downlaod the Olympics role play (PDF) plenary and summarise the advantages and disadvantages of the Games coming East London from what you have heard during the debate.