Games Monitor

Skip to main content.

Sweet indeed - Olympic site was 'real hive of activity and industrial innovation'

There must be something in the water! After years of the old industrial sites in the Lea Valley being written off to justify their compulsory purchase and demolition to make way for the London Olympics the LLDC's Sweetwater web page now advertises the area as:

'One of the most important industrial sites in London, the area around Sweetwater has seen some of the UK’s most important innovations.

In the 19th century, the area was home to the East London Waterworks Company, but it was during the late 19th and early 20th century that it really came into its own with the growth of chemical, confectionery and petroleum industries taking off in the area.

Petrol was first registered for a patent by the company Carless, Capel & Leonard in the area around White Post Lane and a company based on White Post Lane first introduced the French process of dry cleaning to the UK.

A German V1 rocket and heavy bombing damaged many of the buildings in the area during World War Two, but industrial development continued from the 1950s onwards with confectionary, fur trade, engineering and fruit businesses, as well as timber yards and warehouses continued to make the area a real hive of activity and industrial innovation.'

This was hardly how David Higgins put it back in 2006 when he called the Olympic site a 'scar':

"the white stretch down the middle of that slide is the Lea Valley, the lower Lea valley, and in the middle of that is the Olympic site. And what that shows is essentially a scar, a scar of unreconstructed land that is the effect of long term infrastructure that's often run into decay or industrial legacy that hasn't been repaired."

David Higgins, Chief Executive, Olympic Development Authority, keynote speech to Thames Gateway Forum, 22nd/23rd November 2006

or the ODA's Head of Inclusion, Stephen Frost, who compared the area to an 'urban desert':

‘An area that was an urban desert [with] burnt-out cars, wild cats, unexploded bombs from World War II, poisoned soil, dirty water...’

However, bad habits are hard to break. Even as it is now describing the former industrial site as 'a hive of activity and industrial innovation' on its Sweetwater website the LLDC has been presenting a document, Our Area: Spatial Portrait Background Paper to the Local Plan hearings, which describes the area as having suffered from:

'Environmental degradation and under-utilisation of employment land'.

No, they're still not sweet enough, need more sugar in their tea.


| | | | | | | | |