THE TRANSFORMATION OF STRATFORD
From one of the oldest rural gateways to the city, to an industrial stronghold – Stratford has seen its fair share of change. But arguably the greatest change has come in recent years, after it was agreed to play host to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Since this initial investment in the area, Stratford has gone from strength to strength. As well as the exceptional leisure and sporting facilities, the area now boasts new homes, retail, restaurants and offices offering workers and residents a new community with unrivalled facilities. In the coming years the further investment at East Bank will transform it into London’s new cultural heart.
Here’s a whistle-stop tour of Stratford’s recent history and bright future.
Pre-Olympics, Stratford was viewed as being too far east to be considered a viable home for most businesses who operated from Central London. Hit by de-industrialisation, the area received minimal investment but a creative spirit ran firmly through its communities. Artists, musicians, creators, woodworkers – each with a history situated in Stratford, honed their craft in the area.
THE OLYMPIC BID
In spite of it having a higher population density and higher unemployment than other locales in London, Stratford was named as home of the Olympic village and stadiums due to the potential of the area. The historic canals, the potential for fast and effective transport from city centre – it was well placed in many regards. And after the Olympic bid was won, the upward trajectory of investment in the area began.
LONDON'S NEW LEISURE DESTINATION
Stratford had already made a name for itself amongst the city’s shoppers – with the local shopping centre opening in the 90s and then Westfield joining the area in 2011. But the Olympic facilities really solidified its place as a sports destination. The Copperbox Arena, London Stadium, The Aquatics Centre and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park provide the opportunity for local communities and people across London to get fit, practice sports and enjoy green outdoor space in the city.
A large part of why ongoing investment continued well after the Olympics, was Stratford’s transformation into one of London’s best-connected areas. The new high-speed train service from Stratford International takes you to St Pancras in seven minutes while the overhead services from Stratford Station take you to Stansted Airport in an hour or Liverpool Street in ten minutes. The tube station is serviced by both the Central and Jubilee line, whilst a comprehensive list of bus services serves the area well.
Construction started at IQL in 2014, the vision: to create a vibrant new neighbourhood built for modern life and capturing the buzz of the Olympic Legacy. New homes, workplaces, tree-lined boulevards with restaurants and great retail, and right at the heart of it all a Pavilion. A central place for the community to congregate, with 360 degree views across London. The work is ongoing, but we’ve already welcomed businesses like Transport for London, The British Council, Cancer Research UK and UNICEF.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
It’s not just IQL that’s brought further investment to Stratford. Here East is campus in the Olympic Park that’s dedicated to Innovation and Education. It offers space to small businesses, creators, start-ups, established businesses and the local community. It encourages collaboration and creates innovation, all while running a solid community outreach programme to ensure local benefit.
WHAT'S YET TO COME
East Bank is set to be London’s new cultural powerhouse. A home to art, music, education, welcoming industry leaders and educational establishments to the area. New University College London and London College of Fashion will bring students to the area and a new educated workforce to Stratford businesses. Sadler’s Wells will open at East Bank, with a 550 seat theatre and Hip-Hop academy. BBC Studios will also relocate here, creating studio space for recording musicians and a new home for the BBC Symphony and Concert Orchestras. And to complete the spectrum of household names – a new V&A museum will open.