diamond geezer

 Sunday, November 16, 2003

Famous places within 15 minutes walk of my house
Number 2012 - The Olympic Stadium ii

your stadium here

An Olympic Stadium is a large circular-ish object, requiring space for a 400 metre running track, seating for the nations of the world and sufficient space round the edge for the selling of hotdogs and novelty fluorescent headgear. So, where to put it? It appears that the authorities have merely worked out how large a circle they need, found a map of the local area and hunted down the one location where that circle would fit without overlapping one of the many river channels round here. And the location they've found is a godforsaken industrial estate halfway up a boy-racer lane just north of Pudding Mill Lane DLR station. Middle of nowhere. This is Marshgate Lane, a 100% non-residential slice of East London, one solitary road cutting across the flood plain of the River Lea. If anywhere in London deserves to be regenerated, it's this unloved heap of warehouses, incinerators and industrial units. Up to 350 companies will be forced to relocate if the Olympics come to Stratford, but an Olympic flame would suit the area far better than the present smell of burning waste, fats and cooking oils.

meddlingI got myself a decent map and walked up Marshgate Lane to find the exact location of the centre of the stadium for myself. It's just past Knobs Hill Road, right opposite Parkes Galvanizing Ltd, where a couple of small roads run off the lane onto the Marshgate Trading Estate. Here you'll find a company that hires skips, a giant nondescript warehouse, the odd big family business, a company that prepares caviar and smoked salmon and, right in the middle, a Mercedes Service Centre. This is where the javelins will land, where 3000 perfectly-choreographed local schoolchildren will tapdance through the opening ceremony and where all the medals will be presented. I was disturbed to see three Mercedes flags flying over the exact spot - it looks like the Germans have staked their claim for the top of the medal table already.

polystyrene bowlThis weekend, as a genuine local resident, I've also attended one of the public consultation events for the Olympic masterplan. The Lower Lea Valley regeneration team have been setting up their display boards in a variety of community-type institutions, asking people what they think about the plans and the legacy to be left behind for the local area. It turned out that most of the display is available on the internet anyway, but there were some nice extras including some fantastically detailed maps of the minutiae of regeneration and a 3D model to bring the plans to life (pictured left). The organising staff seemed keen to welcome us all, but even keener to get at least one person present to fill in one of their less-than-thrilling questionnaires. I would have spoken to somebody official about the plans, except that one of them was being persistently harangued by a pessimist explaining how the Dome was a white elephant and the whole bid thing would undoubtedly be a financial disaster, while most of the rest of the staff were too busy trying to set up a Powerpoint presentation. At least it was encouraging to see my community's future being taken seriously for once. Whether the Olympics arrive here in 2012 or not, local regeneration is on track.


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