Lower Lea Regeneration & Olympics Masterplan

Lea Regeneration Masterplan

The Lower Lea Valley in East London has been identified as the preferred site for London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics.  The practice’s proposal for this key development area seeks to deliver physical, economic and social regeneration benefits for a scenario with and without the Olympics: an emphasis on legacy development means that as many elements as possible offer post-Olympics value, including education and health, transport and utilities infrastructure, affordable housing, structured landscape, enhanced existing and new water areas, public open space and indoor and out-door leisure facilities.  The key regeneration principles driving this masterplan were the creation of sustainable, connected communities in a unified city district, supported by a comprehensive transport system. 

The River Lea and its associated marshland waterways represent a unique amenity in terms of both of plant and animal life.  This masterplan builds on previous Docklands regeneration, revitalising those waterways and adjacent communities, making water an integral part of the lives and prosperity of local people.  The scheme makes optimum use of the currently under-utilised river, canals and reservoirs that characterise the Lea Valley, enhancing existing watercourses and creating new waterways as part of a strong landscape framework.

The scheme identifies new high-density mixed-use development clustered adjacent to main transport nodes, reflecting the principles of a compact city, whilst ensuring the highest possible intensity of use and encouraging diversity of activity.  The masterplan aims to create a high quality environment, providing the highest standards of urban design and architecture. Transport and development hubs could also form the focus of the various Olympic events, with venues strung out like a ‘string of pearls’ along the valley. 

The Lower Lea Arc as envisaged by the masterplan reinvents the urban community for the 21st century, setting new standards in sustainable development. The new sustainable neighbourhoods, within both the Olympic and non-Olympic options, would be based on a re-use of land and buildings, compact, medium to high density forms, a mix of land uses based upon overlapping zones of living, working, leisure and shopping, and public transport-oriented urban design – demonstrating an overall emphasis on flexibility and adaptability.

Public transport provision and, in particular, the tube and rail systems are key to the creation of new sustainable neighbourhoods. Density and development will increase around rail stations – the ‘hubs’ of a public transport system that also includes buses, cycles, and movement on foot.  Development patterns are largely dictated by walking or cycling distances.  Cars have their place but their penetration and physical presence is controlled. 

The masterplan was intended to demonstrate clearly how the right strategic thinking would create opportunities for economic and social, as well as physical regeneration – a new piece of vibrant city using the Olympic challenge as a lever for a long-term legacy vision.

Location London, England
Type Masterplanning
Date 2003
The Architect Richard Rogers Partnership