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2012 Blog**ng Lies and Censorship

It’s not only the Chinese who censor comment! The following 'terminological inexactitudes' appeared on the London 2012 Blog from David Higgins, Chief Executive of the ODA, as the London Olympics tries to purloin every development in the vicinity of the Olympic park for the ‘Legacy’. Not only do we have a post-Games legacy but now a pre-Games legacy! Stratford City, Stratford 2011, Newham Council Major Opportunity Zone 1 (as in Newham's Unitary Development Plan) or whatever it's called is now just another example of the catalytic effect of the Games, even though it was approved before the Bid was won, was designed to stand alone if the Olympics did not come to London and had been Newham's pet project for the previous decade. The Mayor of Newham was so protective of this scheme that at one point he put out a press release accusing London 2012 of endangering its survival.

Higgins also refers to the 'massive transport upgrades' which 'will' make Stratford one of the best connected parts of the capital. There's no 'will' about it. Stratford is and has been one of the best connected places in London, even boasting its own rail link to Paris. Once again none of this has anything to do with the Olympics. This connectedness was one of the reasons Stratford was chosen to host the Games.

So I decided to post my comment, which was, amazingly, briefly posted on the London 2012 site, see further below. I presume a sleepy employee just stuck it up without bothering to check what was in it. But not for long. Thinking this was too good to be true I went back to check the site a few hours later and, sure enough, it was no longer there.

And apparently Stratford has another countdown clock!

“London 2012 blog

Lasting legacy for Londoners before the Games begin

David, ODA Chief Executive, 2 Sep 2008

I was at an event this morning at the site of the new Stratford City shopping centre development with the Mayor of London. Boris unveiled a clock counting down to the opening of the centre in March 2011 - 912 days from now:

Almost £1.5bn of private sector investment is going into the scheme, which will create one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. It is a huge vote of confidence in the London 2012 Games and shows how the Games are a catalyst for lasting regeneration in east London. The shopping centre will create thousands of jobs and be at the heart of the new community around the Olympic Park. With the massive transport upgrades, this area will become one of the best connected parts of the capital.

They are making great progress with the construction and the project shows very clearly how a lasting legacy will be delivered for Londoners even before the Games have started.”

My response:

“This is outrageous! Stratford City, now renamed Stratford 2011, was planned as a separate development, which would have occurred even if the Olympics had not happened as can be seen if you look at the planning application and surviving websites from the time. Planning permission was granted in 2004 before the Olympic Bid was won. Newham had designated the Stratford Rail Lands as an area of major employment opportunity. Would this have been abandoned if the Olympics hadn't come? During the Olympics compulsory purchase enquiry, which I attended as an objector, the LDA tried to downplay the role of Stratford City even though in their own evidence it was called a Metropolitan Centre to serve London. The ODA wants to claim all this and the housing for the Athletes' Village as legacy even though the housing for the Athletes' Village would have been built anyway, as it has admitted in an answer to a Freedom of Information question. For example below is a link to futurestratford for Stratford City. It doesn't once mention the Olympics.

Future Stratford

In April 2003, the Stratford City development partners (Chelsfield, Stanhope and London & Continental Railways) submitted an application for outline planning permission to Newham for the development of the Stratford Rail Lands. The Stratford City development is one of the most ambitious building schemes ever proposed in London. Centred on Stratford’s excellent transport links, which will soon include a new International Station linking Stratford directly with Paris, this major new town centre development will attract major businesses to Newham.Most importantly, Stratford City will increase the prosperity and wellbeing of local people, with thousands of new jobs promised, as well as 4,500 new homes. There will be prestige offices, department stores and shops, premises for small businesses, schools, health centres, parks, community facilities and much more. All this will be achieved by reclaiming the Rail Lands, a brownfield site that has always been inaccessible to the people of east London, and so has divided communities from each other.


The scheme covers the whole of the Rail Lands and integrates fully with surrounding areas. It divides into four districts: Town Centre district, Carpenters district, West Leyton district and Lea Valley district. Each of these has a distinct character, but a central aspect of the proposal is that all areas should contain a mix of uses. So whereas, for example, there are many homes in the West Leyton district, it also has shops, offices, open space and so on, while there is plenty of residential in other districts, too. Here, we divide the scheme into the key elements set out in the planning application.

Shopping and leisure

The main shopping area is the Town Centre district, where 140,000 square metres of retail are proposed. This would be made up of three large department stores and around 120 designer and high street shops, plus a wide range of other specialist outlets, restaurants and cafés. Across the rest of the site, 10,500 square metres have been allocated for additional retail – primarily local shops, food shops and numerous cafés, restaurants and bars. There are also 36,500 square metres of leisure space which could include a large cinema complex, an arts and cultural centre and health and fitness clubs, as well as nightclubs and other facilities.


In total, 465,000 square metres are proposed for offices and businesses. On this scale, and with the right quality, it should attract major European businesses to locate at Stratford. A range of types of offices is proposed, from starter units to corporate headquarters. Just over half the commercial buildings are planned for Carpenters district, to the southwest of the site. The rest would be in the Town Centre district, integrated with shops, and at the southern end of the West Leyton district, close to the International Station. It is calculated that commercial activities, including all the offices, retail and leisure, will generate 33,000 jobs.


It is intended that there should be 120,000 square metres of hotel and conference space in Stratford City, clustered around the International Station. With 2,000 hotel rooms, there are likely to be some four large hotels.ResidentialStratford City will contain 4,500 homes, with 460,000 square metres allocated to residential throughout the site.

Homes will be of all different designs and sizes, and will house 11,000 people. The planning application proposes that 30 per cent will be affordable housing, made up of homes for key workers, social housing and homes for those with special needs.It is also planned that houses should be grouped together according to people’s lifestyles, rather than according to income brackets. Thus, family homes of all kinds are envisaged for the West Leyton district, with plenty of open space for children, while there may be more flats and apartments in the Town Centre district.

Community facilities

Among a wide range of proposals to serve the community are state-of-the-art health facilities, including a primary healthcare centre and a drop-in health centre.At the northern end of the West Leyton district will be a brand new education campus, including a two-form entry primary school, a secondary school with the capacity for 900 pupils, a lifelong learning centre and a two-classroom nursery. Located next to playing fields, the campus will contain play and sports facilities.In addition, it is proposed that around the site there will be multi-use community facilities, youth facilities, nurseries, crèches, a recruitment centre and a visitor information centre.

Open and ecological space

Across the whole site, over 13 hectares (32 acres) are allocated to public open space. This ranges from squares and public gardens to parks and natural and ecological habitats, and will be distributed across all parts of Stratford City. It is also intended that all housing should be close to safe, public and properly equipped spaces for children to play in. In addition, plenty of water is featured in the scheme, including a long, stepped lake with a total area of 13,500 square metres, to be known as the Cascades.


Stratford City is planned as a development that especially favours pedestrians. However, important transport elements will be incorporated. A new ticket hall for the existing Regional Station is proposed on the north side of the railway tracks, with a new additional bus station. Everywhere on the site, pedestrians will be just a short walk from a bus stop, and there will be substantial public car parking for Town Centre shopping. And, of course, there will be trains to Paris and other European destinations from the International Station, with parking, and coach and taxi drop-off facilities. All around the site there will be dedicated cycle lanes.The site will be well linked into the local road network, and new and upgraded roads, bridges and streets will both stitch this part of London together and allow easy access to Stratford City by foot, cycle, bus and car.

Documents from the Stratford City Planning Application

These pdf files are of special interest because they are exact reproductions of some of the key documents that accompanied the Planning Application when it was submitted by the development partnership to the London Borough of Newham and others on 29 April 2003. However, they are very large files and may take too long to download unless you have a broadband internet connection. If you wish to study the Planning Application documents in detail, and do not have broadband access, please contact us via this website for further advice.”

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