It is coming to an end. Again.
With the Paralympics reaching their conclusion on Sunday, it really will all be over for the Olympic summer in London.
But what comes next? What of the 2.5 km2 Olympic Park in the east of the city? Centre of the world’s attention for the past month or more, will it now be left to slide into obscurity?
With countless white elephants left around the world following various Games, Londoners are right to worry the 2012 instalment will be no different, gifting the city an uninhabitable wasteland as reward for hosting the event.
But this is not the case this time, says the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).
Formed in 2009, the organisation has been quietly working behind the scenes to ensure the capital breaks the mould of host cities, delivering an asset, rather than a liability, to the people of London.
As soon as the Paralympics are over, it will begin a £300m construction project to transform the Olympic site into a new urban destination to be known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
On July 27th 2013, exactly one year on from the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, the first parts of the new park will be opened to the public.
The venue will become a new visitor destination, re-connecting a previously undeveloped industrial site to the rest of east London and to the capital.
Sporting venues and attractions will sit alongside new homes, schools and businesses, among open green spaces and works of art in the heart of London’s East End.
The north of the park is set in the valley of the River Lea.
There’ll be landscaped parklands, open spaces and waterways – it will be a place to kick back and spend time exploring the surroundings.
The south of the Park, which will be known as South Plaza, is the place to go for an event – be it sporting, cultural or entertainment.
Anchored by the Stadium, Aquatics Centre and the UK’s tallest sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, there’ll also be bars, restaurants and a large events lawn.
It will be fully open by spring 2014.
“We are going to shift the centre of London to the east, this development is that big,” explained Malcolm Ross, executive director of park operations & venues, London Legacy Development Corporation.
“Out work here is just beginning – over the next 20 years, we will create something unique to London, welcoming tourists from across the country, but also from overseas.
A predicted ten million visitors a year will visit the park, making it among the most popular destinations in the capital.
Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said the park had real potential to boost tourism in the country.
“The park can play a vital role for tourism here in Britain – this could be a real turning point,” she told Breaking Travel News.
“We are seeking to boost overseas visitor numbers to the UK to 40 million annually by 2020 – events hosted here in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park could play a major role in that.”
Planning for the Future
As the Paralympics come to a close, legacy planning for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is more advanced than any previous host Olympic city.
Already six out of eight of the permanent Olympic venues on the Park have their future secured, while the final two venues – the Stadium and the Press & Broadcast Centres – are in the final stages of securing long-term occupants.
In July the LLDC announced iCity as the preferred bidder for the Press & Broadcast Centres, while there are presently four bids for the Stadium.
With West Ham United FC, Intelligent Transport Services in association with Formula One, UCFB College of Football Business, and Leyton Orient FC all still in the running, the winner will be known next month.
The venues are only part of the story, however.
Work will begin on the first of five new neighbourhoods, Chobham Manor, in 2013 once the basketball arena has been removed.
The first families will begin to move in during 2014.
The 9.3 hectare site will set the benchmark for quality design and sustainable living on the Park which will include the use of green or living roofs, car-free areas, integral cycle parking and links across the Park, according to officials close to the project.
It is hoped the new postcode - E20 - can grow to rival some of the more established locations in London over the next 20 years.
With the European Hockey Championship already scheduled for 2015, to be following in 2017 by World Athletics Championships, there is plenty of scope for optimism.
Take a look at the official website for more information on the development of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.