News / Europe

    Olympic Construction Brings Big Changes to E. London

    Al Pessin
    LONDON — The 2012 Olympic Park is in East London, a poor area that was largely ignored until the city won the right to host the games seven years ago.  Since then it has been transformed.  But some people question whether the changes were as positive as officials claim, and how the area will fare after the Games are over.

    Rebuilding East London was part of the 2012 Olympics plan from the very beginning, with an environmental cleanup, new housing, stores and parks, as well as the sports facilities.  The goal was to make this a prosperous, integral part of London in a way it had never been.

    So Olympics organizers created Olympic Park Legacy Company to plan for the future from the very beginning.  The company promises park land, access to first class sports facilities, thousands of jobs and a more vibrant local economy.

    "This park has been invested in," said Peter Tudor, one of the senior officials behind Olympic Park Legacy Company.  "It used to be almost wasteland.  There were some factories here.  There were some disused areas.  There was a lot of junk that had been dumped here.  But now it's a beautiful park and it becomes a new park for the city."

    Most of what is now the Olympic Park was either abandoned or occupied by factories and businesses.  One of them was the Forman and Sons fish smoking business, run by Lance Forman, who decided to build his new factory, along with a restaurant, art gallery and party venue, just a few hundred meters from the old one, in the shadow of the new Olympic Stadium.

    "People come here now, people who lived in London all their lives, and they come to events or to our restaurant and they look out of the window and they say 'Oh my God, I didn't realize this part of London existed.'  Well I think that when the Olympics happens, you're going to have half a million people here on our doorstep every day.  They will love it and they will want to come back," said Forman.

    But some local residents are not happy with the redevelopment that the Olympics brought, including Julian Cheyne, whose apartment building was torn down to make way for the Park.

    "I'm not saying there hasn't been a transformation," Cheyne explained.  "The question is whether it's a desirable transformation in what they've done now, or whether it was so bad in first place.  The kind of language which is used, 'urban desert' and a 'scar,' is simply not true."

    Cheyne believes the Olympic facilities will not benefit the people who live nearby and says redevelopment was beginning to happen anyway.

    Much of the impact of the Olympics in East London will not be known for years, maybe decades.  But Peter Tudor of Olympic Park Legacy Company is eager to get started.

    "We've been planning for this for a long time and we can't wait to get our hands on the park and get to work," Tudor said.  "We can make a difference with these venues.  Come back in a few years' time and we'll show you how we've done it."

    With a string of broken promises in some past Olympic cities, many people will be doing just that.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.