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Stratford didn't need the Games

I came across this comment about the impact of the Olympics on the regeneration of the east end of London in a recent interview with Peter Hall. He is Professor of Planning and Regeneration at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning, University College London. From 1991 to 1994 he was Special Adviser on Strategic Planning to the Secretary of State for the Environment, with special reference to London and South-East regional planning, including Thames Gateway and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. In 1998-9 he was a member of the Deputy Prime Minister's Urban Task Force.

The interview is published in 'Regenerating London', Governance, sustainability and community in a global city, Editors, Rob Imrie, Loretta Lees & Mike Raco, Routledge, 2009

Editors: Could you say one or two things about the Olympic Games and the impact and effects that it may have on the regeneration of that part of London?

Peter Hall: I think in retrospect there's a serious doubt about whether we ever should have campaigned for the Games, and of course one version is that the government never ever thought for one minute they were going to get it, that Paris was going to win, but they had to show enthusiasm, and they were absolutely blown apart when they got it. And its been more or less a disaster ever since.

The physical regeneration of Stratford was going to happen anyway. It didn't need the Games. It will clean up a vast mess of the Lower Lea Valley, between Stratford and Canning Town, which is a good thing and generations in the future will say that's great – as long as they don't mess it up afterwards, but there's now a rumour that they're going to try develop half of it afterwards and not leave it as a park, which you can now well see the Treasury trying to do.

But it has had terrible distorting effects, apart from the cost of it all, direct and indirect. It has skewed all the regeneration of Thames Gateway on to the Lea Valley and to some degree the Royals [Docks] and away from Barking and other areas, which I think is a negative. And if we wanted to clean up the Lower Lea Valley and get Barking done, we could have got the whole job done much cheaper, than what we'll pay for the Games and the Lea Valley.

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