I go up to stratford fairly often these days: I really like that area around the Olympic park and Westfield shopping centre – it all feels so sleek and new, yet so peaceful. What I find most striking, though, is the thought that, just a few years ago, that area was completely different. Until relatively recently, that area was a neglected urban scrubland. Thanks to winning the right to host the 2012 olympics, that area is now one of the coolest in London, with it’s sleek new buildings, pretty rivers and paths, and awesome sports and cultural events. It’s one of my favourite areas of London to go to, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.
That makes me wonder, though: if Stratford can undergo such a transformation, could other areas of the capital benefit from similar treatment? One of the things I love most about London is that it’s constantly changing and being modernised: if the area around Stratford can be changed so drastically and amazingly, what can be done to other areas? For one, I think there are still areas of woolwich which could do with work. Of course, the old arsenal area is getting a makeover due to crossrail; but to the west of that, up by the Thames near the Thames Barrier, there are still shabby old warehouses left over from another era. Think what could be done to that area if it got he stratford treatment
My first automatic suggestion would be a cinema complex, but there are already two or three first rate cinemas in the area, so another might be overkill. Yet the fact remains that area by the thames has vast potential, especially given the opening of the Elisabeth Line next year means it’s foot traffic is about to shoot up.
Of course I’m sure that’s not the only area of London which could do with looking at, but going through it yesterday afternoon, I was really struck by the contrast in the feel of these areas. It’s as if different boroughs of London get vastly unequal treatment and pots of funding, which doesn’t seem completely fair. The question is, if stratford can get transformed due to the olympics, as north Greenwich was on the back of the millennium, what other mega-events are needed to spur the modernisation of other London’s neglected suburbs?