Nine students from the Geography Department today embarked upon a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to meet two representatives from the company ‘regeneris’. The focus of the trip was learn about the regeneration projects that have been taking place in the area, and also find out about the representatives we met and some past and current projects. Geography student Matthew Pearson has written the following about his experience.
Travelling by train and tube, we nine students (all first and second years in BA and BSc Geography and Geography and Planning), and our organiser Naomi Halloran, travelled to Stratford tube station, where we were met by a past BA student, Amy Gilham. From here, we were led to a conference room in the newly named Lee Valley VeloPark, which many to refer to as the famous velodrome from the London 2012 Olympics. Here, we met another representative, Chris Paddock, who previously graduated from Leicester University with a Master’s degree in Economic Geography.
They gave an insightful PowerPoint presentation into their academic and professional backgrounds, talking about how they worked their ways up from researchers to more senior positions. The presentation then moved onto current and previous examples of work they have undertaken, from researching issues for central government to how fibre optic broadband supplied by BT has helped companies increase their productivity.
Next on the agenda were some more in depth examples of research projects they had done for clients. Some examples of their work include:
- An economic strategy and growth plan for Bexley
- A sector study for Hounslow
- Suggestion for the Crossrail project in London
- Business tourism support research for VisitEngland and VisitScotland
- An outline of the master plan, development brief and planning application process for Fort Halstead
We were then fortunate enough to have the opportunity to introduce ourselves to both Amy and Chris and explain to them our particular areas of interest. In response, they gave excellent replies into how their company are involved in these issues, and also lent us some of their wisdom into the topics of debate. Their responses were thorough in their detail and have aided many of us in our ideas for potential dissertation topics.
To end the session, we were then given a talk by Chris about the Olympic Park. He gave us a history of the area, how it was transformed from an old industrial area into this picturesque Olympic village. He spoke on how ‘Compulsory Purchase Orders’ were placed on all the businesses and homes in the area that were required, particularly in areas such as Hackney and Carpenters Lane, and how residents of areas such as Clays Lane estate were rehoused into other areas. Another phrase he used, which was often coined during the games, was the games leaving behind a legacy- that the Olympics was day one in the regeneration of the area. Ideas of the park being built in a linear design, instead of the traditional square in order to encourage development between areas, was an idea many of us had never considered before, and certainly educated us on such planning concepts. He rounded off the talk with information about the Lee Valley Leisure Trust. This charity, of which he is heavily involved in, took over three of the legacy venues in the park, plus a further twenty or so in other areas of the Lee Valley. The aim of the trust is to drive participation of locals and continue the Olympic Legacy.
All of us who attended the trip found it extremely interesting and had a fantastic time. I personally, learnt an awful lot from the experience, and out of it have had some leads of which I hope to utilise in the future. It was a thoroughly enjoyable yet insightful experience and would like to thank Amy, Chris and Naomi for providing such an experience.