Olympic Park to have Victorian feel

London site to double in size to 100ha as it is transformed into London's largest garden square.

Landscape leaders building the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have said the transformed green space will dovetail the best of Victorian planning with leading 21st century design.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is removing bridges and temporary seating from sports venues to double the park's size to 100ha. Over the winter, 4,000 trees will have been planted, while "stitches" of landscape will link the park to surrounding areas.

Head of landscape and public realm Phil Askew said: "The original transformation plan left the space largely open. But we felt it was too big and too open, and needed breaking up to a more human scale. We will create new east-west and north-west connections."

He said the park would be thoroughly modern but with Victorian echoes. "We want this to be a park that's innovative in thinking about biodiversity and urban ecology, but we also want to bring gardens and horticulture back into parks."

"Planting schemes by Piet Oudolf will be fantastic and unique, and include ribbon planting that divides and defines the different outdoor rooms. They will be big, beefy perennials up to 1.5m high."

He said the park was, in effect, London's largest garden square, and the team had taken lessons from the Victorians, who built homes around parkland - in this case, about 11,000.

Askew added that the park aims to address health issues, economics, biodiversity and flood attenuation

Director of park operations Mark Camley said: "This period is called 'transformation' and my job is to create and transform the parkland. For the Olympics, we had a space of 50ha. When we finish next spring, it will be double that. My role is almost like that of a head of parks.

"One of the biggest challenges is the park's newness. We don't know how people will use it. We will have a five-year management plan, but it will have to react to how people use the spaces.

"Another challenge is to ensure visitors see it as a seamless experience and don't feel they are stepping from a London Legacy-branded space into the Lea Valley. Looking after parks is a lifetime job and the last thing you want is to chop and change. We must take a long-term view."

Open all hours - Park details emerge

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be open 24 hours a day, according to the London Legacy Development Corporation.

The south park will be more urban in feel, with the vibe of the South Bank a few miles away, while the north park will be more rambling and naturalistic, with children's play areas to encourage mild risk-taking.

Government funding, set by the comprehensive spending review, runs until 2015, by which time the mayor of London will pay £10m a year. Additional funding will be generated by events hosted in the park.


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