Written evidence from Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (OLL 21)

 

Introduction

 

1. This submission has been prepared by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) in response to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's call for evidence on the legacy from London 2012.

 

2. The Authority has a major interest in legacy as a key London 2012 partner - we own a substantial part of Olympic Park and will be the owner of four 2012 sports venues. Our 2012 remit means we have submitted evidence to and supported the work of local, regional and national government committees and meetings.

 

3. In preparing this submission we have also reviewed our own publication Parklands, Venues and People, (attached)[1] which was published in December 2008. In this document we set out our thinking about the Olympic Park, given we are owners of some 20% of the land (and 35% of the parklands), and have committed in legacy to fund and manage:

 

the hockey and tennis centres on Eton Manor - the northern gateway to Olympic Park

the VeloPark

the London 2012 White Water Canoe Centre (WWCC) currently under construction in Hertfordshire between Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross, just north of the M25. This has a unique early legacy explained in paragraphs 10-12.

 

4. Our focus in this submission is how we are preparing for the legacy use of these venues now using:

our current facilities as templates, particularly the award winning Lee Valley Athletics Centre, Edmonton; and

our expert knowledge of operating much-admired leisure facilities and open spaces.

 

LVRPA - a summary

 

5. LVRPA was established by Act of Parliament in 1966. The 26 mile, 10,000 acre Lee Valley Regional Park stretches from Hertfordshire through Essex, North and East London, Olympic Park, down to the River Thames. LVRPA is the only statutory leisure development and management organisation of its kind in the UK, with a remit covering all forms of sport, leisure, entertainment and nature conservation. We were set up to provide these services for the people of London, Essex and Hertfordshire - and it is important to remember that while others (local authorities, for instance) may provide some of these services at their discretion, doing this is our statutory obligation.

 

6. The Park is a mosaic of award-winning open spaces, sports venues, heritage sites, country parks, farms, golf courses, lake and riverside trails, campsites, marinas, angling and boating locations attracting more than four million visitors a year. We have nine Green Flag awards. We host around 500 local, regional and national events every year including education and community projects.

 

7. The Authority has a representative Board structure with elected councillor Members nominated by their own councils from across the regional constituency - London, Essex and Hertfordshire - including individual Members from the four Lower Lee Valley host boroughs. In summer 2009 we instituted a new governance structure with a six strong Executive Committee to provide more effective Board leadership, with half from London and half from Essex and Hertfordshire.

 

8. We leverage money from the private sector and government grants to enhance the Park, so do not rely solely on the contribution from the taxpayers of our regional constituencies, which comes via a levy on their council tax. 51 million of capital investment has been made in the Lee Valley Regional Park over the past five years.

Question 1: Whether the 2012 Games will deliver a lasting legacy of social, physical and economic regeneration

 

9. LVRPA committed some years ago to the running and long term management of the WWCC, VeloPark and tennis and hockey centres on Eton Manor - all of which fall within our land ownership.

 

10. The WWCC in Hertfordshire is in the heart of the Lee Valley Regional Park, only 40 minutes door to door from Liverpool Street station. Construction work started on site last summer and LVRPA will open the venue to the public in Spring 2011, a full year before the Games, for white water canoeing and rafting.

 

11. This "pre-Games legacy" is important for the committee to note, especially as this is the only brand new sports venue being constructed for the Games outside Olympic Park and the only one to open to the public ahead of the Games. Our business plan for the WWCC will attract 70,000 visitors a year post-Games.

 

12. While canoeing is the focus for the London 2012 Games, and will play a large part in the life of the Centre after the Olympics, most visitors are expected to take up the challenge of white water rafting - a thrilling and accessible experience available to a variety of people, including those who have never tired it before.

Question 2: Ways of maximising the value of the Olympic legacy both within the host boroughs, London and across the UK

13. As stated in paragraph 9, LVRPA is partly funded by a levy on the council tax payers of London, Essex and Hertfordshire, so as part of our normal working practices we are constantly looking to serve this regional audience alongside our local visitors.

 

14. In terms of our venues, the WWCC will provide the area with a major new leisure attraction and will be a catalyst to the wider regeneration of this part of Hertfordshire and nearby Essex. The Centre will benefit the area through business, employment, education, tourism, culture, volunteering and sporting opportunities.

 

15. It is planned to be a huge draw to a wide range of people of all abilities by ensuring that the Centre is both a first rate rafting venue and also provides canoeing and kayaking sports development opportunities - offering everything from elite training, sessions for clubs, colleges, universities, schools and community groups to chances for people to learn a new sport.

 

16. LVRPA has pledged that during the summer and autumn of 2011 every London Borough and Hertfordshire and Essex district will have the opportunity to send a school group to the White Water Canoe Centre. We plan to launch this initiative across the region in spring this year as a way of galvanising interest from young people in the Centre, attracting them to both canoeing and rafting.

 

17. One early indicator of the economic regeneration has been that one of the UK's largest water sports retailers has opened an outlet just minutes from the White Water Canoe Centre site. Brookbank Canoes and Kayaks opened in December and has been seen locally as a contribution to job creation and a welcome addition to the local economy.

 

18. The VeloPark and velodrome will form a crucial training and competition venue for British cyclists. There will be three other indoor velodromes in the UK and the Olympic velodrome with seating for 6000 spectators will offer much needed facilities for the whole of the south east.

 

19. The velodrome replaces the Authority's Eastway Cycle Circuit, built in the 1970s which had reached the end of its working life. It hosted major national and international events, but like all our sports facilities also catered for regional events and attracted large numbers of schools and community organisations. The design process for the velodrome has involved former Eastway users who have assisted with its design, and with the international BMX facility, one mile road cycle circuit and mountain biking circuit.

 

20. The new VeloPark will be able offer the fullest variety of cycle disciplines and experiences and will cater for a wide range of riders.

 

21. Eton Manor will have the seating capacity and facilities to attract major hockey tournaments to the capital for the first time. As with all sporting venues operated by Lee Valley Regional Park, we will be introducing sports development programmes, to ensure all ages and abilities can benefit from this hockey centre. Hockey is currently underprovided in this area of London and Eton Manor will address this need. At least two hockey teams will be based at the venue and development programmes are being put in place now London Boroughs to ensure the sport develops.

 

22. We have considerable experience marrying elite and community usage at many of our existing centres and are particularly looking at our Lee Valley Athletics Centre (LVAC) as a template for successful sports venues.

 

23. Our approach at LVAC has already reaped considerable rewards, both for British sporting teams and local residents. In the three years it has been open, it has been home to three of the four Team GB track and field medallists at the Beijing Olympics (a fifth of Team GB train here) as well as tens of thousands of children and young people. Its success is down to a great partnership between ourselves, UK Athletics, the English Institute of Sport and others

 

24. We pride ourselves on an awareness of, and ability to deliver, facilities for the best in the country alongside wide scale community use. It is the experience gleaned from building this solid track record of running first rate venues which we will be drawing on for the 2012 venues.

 

25. We see the current set up at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre - providing a similar mix of opportunity for novice and elite athletes - to that which the VeloPark will provide for cyclists, Eton Manor will provide for tennis and hockey and the WWCC will provide for canoeists.

 

26. LVAC attracts 145,000 users a year, many have never tried athletics before, let alone in such an inspirational venue and competing in the same arena as Beijing 400m gold medallist Christine Ohuruogo. It is also:

 

one of only two High Performance Athletics Centres in the UK

host to almost half Team GB's athletes

home to Enfield and Haringey Athletics Club - one of the top five clubs in the country

a venue for regional and county athletics Performance Squads

a regional hub for the training of athletics coaches

a regional venue for the English Institute of Sport

a regular host to international athletes from a range of sports including fencing, netball and wheelchair rugby

home to a thriving regular development programme for disabled athletes

host to an Academy encouraging eight to 14 year olds to try out athletics and signpost talented youngsters to clubs where they can make the most of their skills

host to one of the few non-football related Playing for Success schemes which re-engages local pupils who are finding school difficult, by using athletics to stimulate their interest in numeracy, literacy and ICT.

 

27. This inclusive approach of engaging hard to reach able bodied and less able groups, creating sports development pathways and providing the best facilities for elite athletes means LVAC has accessible, flexible and varied programming, providing a solid asset for the London and the wider region.

Question 3: The use and management of the Olympic Park and venues after 2012

 

28. We are working closely with the Olympic Park Legacy Company and meetings between the two agencies have seen alignment on a number of issues. These include:

 

The focus on 2012-2014 (the transformation period) as a key timeframe to deliver quick wins for Olympic Park in Legacy - especially the phased reopening to the public of the different parts of the Park

A coherent and seamless approach to the management of the Parklands based on OPLC and LVRPA being the main landowners

The need to both maintain and animate the open spaces to a high standard

A strong brand that can appeal to all potential visitors and users, from local to international, from community to commerce.

 

29. LVRPA believes that the accountability of the different organisations involved in the Olympics has become clearer with the arrival of OPLC. Put succinctly, the LDA was responsible for assembling the site; the ODA for delivering the infrastructure; LOCOG for running the Games and OPLC will take on the legacy.

 

30. In our document, Parklands, Venues and People, we set out three key tests for Olympic Park:

 

Accessible - both physically and economically within reach of a wide cross section of the UK's diverse communities. The Park should focus on the needs of residents from the five core boroughs - Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Greenwich - while meeting the wider needs of the rest of London and the UK

 

Flexible - spaces should be adaptable and used for a broad range of events, from educational programmes to international competitions

 

Varied - it should be used every single day attracting the broadest possible range of people to be engaged, inspired and enthused by the space where - we all anticipate - the greatest Olympic and Paralympic Games in history were staged.

 

31. We anticipate that the main Velodrome - which will be used for Olympics and Paralympics - can and will open again soon after the Games, to provide cyclists with a brand new, world class facility and avoiding any "mothballing" of this venue.

 

32. In addition, we anticipate that the post-Games "transformation" - which comprises an adjustment of the BMX track, the construction of a one mile road track and a mountain biking circuit - will be completed by 2014. We therefore believe that the complete VeloPark will be fully operational by 2014 providing people of all ages and abilities with all forms of cycling to enjoy - elite, club cyclist, amateur and beginner including excellent facilities for disabled riders.

 

33. We welcome the further review being implemented by OPLC to the Legacy Masterplan Framework (LMF). While it is important to submit this for planning approval as soon as practical, it is more important to get it right for the long term future of the Park. It is also worth reminding the Committee that London's legacy planning remains ahead of that of other Olympic cities at this stage. Whilst there is no room for complacency, progress remains good.

 

34. As the other main landowner, we look forward to playing a significant role in the LMF's preparation and subsequent implementation. We envisage a good mix of security, park rangers, grounds management activity and environmental and biodiversity planning to ensure a vibrant park. We will seek to engage a broad range of volunteer programmes that engage local and regional communities and minority ethnic groups.

 

35. Branding for the Olympic Park in legacy is vital. One of the great legacies for previous cities has been their ability to continue to use the word "Olympic" in perpetuity. If this were possible it would be a great advantage for London 2012 and Olympic Park, based on the associations visitors will make when using the Park.

 

Question 4: Progress towards meeting targets to increase grass roots participation in sport;

 

36. Tennis facilities at Eton Manor include indoor and outdoor floodlit courts able to host indoor and outdoor tournaments and provide sports development programmes to ensure mass participation. It has been specifically designed for disabled tennis players and will host the Paralympic tennis tournament during the Games.

 

37. We are currently working in partnership with the five host boroughs to support them on the development of their Strategic Sports Plans for hockey, tennis, cycling, football and disability sports. We intend to ensure that the host borough plans complement our legacy plans to ensure maximum benefit to local residents and regional partners.

 

38. One touchstone of all our work is the close relationships with the National Governing Bodies (NGB) of Hockey, Tennis, Cycling and Canoeing to ensure that our legacy plans reflect their priorities and Whole Sport Plans, plus those of County Sports Partnerships. These will create opportunities for participants, but also focus on coach and volunteer education programmes.

 

39. In addition, we have engaged with a number of local and regional partners to ensure that our legacy plans reflect other organisations' key priorities and objectives. We are developing a Youth and Schools Olympics programme, raising the profile of Olympic sports through events in the Park and creating working partnerships with Higher Education universities and colleges

 

40. We believe that it is important the facilities and Olympic Park itself are not seen as only for elite athletes or in some way as "inaccessible". We will ensure all the facilities under our remit are communicated and run in an inclusive manner.

 

41. Fully funded business plans are in place for all the facilities run by the Authority and these link directly with Sport England target audiences.

 

42. Plans for a White Water attraction in Lee Valley Regional Park actually go back more than a decade. We have been working closely with the British Canoe Union to turn these plans into reality. As with the VeloPark, London 2012 has been the catalyst to get this venue created, bigger, better, sooner.

 

43. The WWCC has been designed from the start for legacy use, with a relatively small amount of Olympic overlay. Funding for the Centre has come from the ODA, ourselves, the East of England Development Agency and Sport England. As well as the main competition course which is being constructed on the site, we have paid for an "intermediate course" to be built. This is shorter and has been designed to give promising canoeists their first taste of white water in a safe, but thrilling, environment as a key part of the sports development programme we are developing.

 

44. Pre planning such as this will ensure that all four venues are well used by a variety of target groups from beginners to elite athletes with extensive community use, outreach and sports development programmes. They will join the other regional sports venues the Authority owns - the Athletics Centre, Lee Valley Riding Centre and Lee Valley Ice Centre - to create a chain of sporting excellence through the Lee Valley Regional Park.

 

45. As explained in paragraph 38 we see the close working relationships we have with national governing bodies as crucial to the successful legacy of all our venues.

 

Question 5: The aim of leaving a lasting legacy that improves cultural life

 

46. While our focus in this paper has been on the three venues we will own and operate in legacy, our wider remit and existing work does involve us in the cultural life of the local community.

47. We have a wide ranging series of events and activities which we organize both ourselves and with partners, from film festivals to Scout Jamborees and more. We do however feel that other organsiations are better placed to answer the question on cultural legacy.

 

Question 6: How success in delivering lasting legacy can be measured.

 

48. In terms of a measurable, sporting contribution to legacy, ours will come from an increased participation in cycling, canoeing, tennis and hockey.

 

January 2010



[1] Not published here.