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The 'largest new park in Europe for 150 years' - in Germany

One of the proudest boasts of the 2012 London Olympics was that it would create the largest new urban park in Europe for 150 years. I asked a Freedom of Information question (see attachment) to discover how the ODA had arrived at this description. They were unable to provide any clear information. All they could say was that they had consulted with 'CABE Space and the London Parks and Green Spaces Forum (who) had assisted the ODA in preparing benchmark studies on parks around the world and in London including previous Olympic Parks.'Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord: Europe's biggest new urban parkLandschaftspark Duisburg-Nord: Europe's biggest new urban park at over 200ha, some 500 acres, was completed in 1999 retaining the industrial archaelogy

Of course, the largest new park is no longer as large as it was having shrunk by 19 hectares. But even when it was 129 hectares its claim to be the largest new urban park in Europe was questionable. A friend recently sent me a link to a park in Duisburg, Germany, constructed on a site with many similarities to the Lea Valley, as it was a former industrial area. At over 200 hectares it is considerably larger than the much vaunted 'largest new park in Europe'.

The Duisburg industrial park shows how the Lea Valley could have been developed in an imaginative way, which illustrated the industrial history of the area, by creating a park based around the rivers and canals linking sites like the Tidal Mill at Three Mills with other buildings such as the King's Yard Works, which were used for making sweets and lozenges and were erected between 1902 and 1912. They included two buildings with curved roofs on timber Belfast trusses. These were some of the few surviving early 20th Century industrial examples of this type of roof truss in England.

Other existing users with their own particular history such as the Manor Gardens Allotments, the Eastway Cycle Circuit, the estate at Clays Lane and a range of businesses could have been retained. This is not outside the realm of what was possible as all the existing planning guidance aimed at extending the existing green space in the Lea Valley. 92.8 hectares of open space was already available and could easily have been added to leaving land around the park available for housing or industrial development.

There was never any consultation on what should be done with the Lea Valley or any discussion of alternatives to the Olympic project. Spun by its backers as the park of the century, even though objectors tried to point out how falacious the claims for the legacy park were and warned from the start that it was bound to shrink, the 'largest new park' has blinded the public and the media. At a reputed cost of £200million it fails to provide continuity with the history of the area and is merely part of a gigantic transfer of resources from an East London past to a gentrified future to fit the requirement of selling land to developers to cover the costs of the Olympic project.


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ODA Park FoI response.pdf110.66 KB

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