Olympic Park to be turned into culture and education hub

Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park. Pic: Sludge G

Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park. Pic: Sludge G

More than £140 million will drive plans to transform the site of the 2012 Olympics into a “cultural hub,” creating upwards of 3,000 jobs, the Treasury announced this week.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which straddles Hackney and Tower Hamlets, will become home to cultural and educational centre “Olympicopolis.”

The project will include an exhibition space for the Victoria and Albert Museum and an extra campus for University College London, part of the University of London.

The money is part of the government’s National Infrastructure Plan, which will inject £350 million into London over the coming years.

The plan also involves £55 million for the regeneration of housing estates in four London boroughs, including Tower Hamlets and £55 million for a rail extension in east London.

The “Olympicopolis” scheme is expected to bring 1.5 million additional visitors to the local area and give the east London economy a £2.8 billion boost.

Major of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Olympicopolis will create a world class centre for arts and education on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will generate millions of pounds for East London’s economy and support thousands of jobs.”

“It is absolutely fantastic that the Government has confirmed funding for this ambitious project to the tune of £141 million, enabling us to progress with detailed plans for its delivery.”

A spokesperson from Tower Hamlets Council said: “It’s great that this site will be accessible to so many people in our borough.”

The project has however drawn criticism for failing to address east London’s most pressing needs.

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow London Minister, said: “What Londoners most desperately need is more funding to build genuinely affordable homes and nothing announced today will make that happen.”

An extension of the Victoria and Albert Museum will be at the heart of the cultural project, displaying both permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Director of the V&A museum, Martin Roth, said: “The education and cultural district planned for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has the potential to be one of the most exciting and important developments of our time.”

“Our aim is to create a new model for museums of the future, where reserve collections and archives are visible and accessible all of the time and the public can really be engaged with their national collections.”

UCL’s contribution to the initiative will include a ‘Museum of the Future.’ Affiliates of the university said the scheme will “forge new connections between researchers and businesses” and “bring together expertise across disciplines.”

A University of the Arts, London site will also “create a research and fashion hub for the global fashion industry near the traditional heart of the East End fashion trade, connecting London College of Fashion’s 6,500 students and staff for the first time in its 100-year history.”

Sadler’s Well’s theatre will bring a 600-seat dance theatre to the project.

Developers stated: “These globally-respected institutions will become resources for local people, artists, students and audiences from London and beyond.”

Talks between the mayor and all partners are planned in the next few weeks to finalise details. The centre hopes to open its doors to the public as early as 2018.


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