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Stratford

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Stratford

Stratford, East London, rose during the Industrial Revolution but fell into decline when the city deindustrialised. For many years, it was one of the most deprived communities in the UK before it was revamped for the 2012 Olympic Games. The city's regeneration helped to rebuild the area, but its impact adversely affected some of its population.

Stratford

Stratford is a town in east London, England (Figure 1) – about 7 miles northeast of Central London.

When Stratford was still a rural area, it was the centre for livestock that came from the surrounding areas for slaughter. Furthermore, corn from the mills was readily accessible, so Stratford became known for bread baking and potato production.

Regenerating Places, Stratford, StudySmarterFigure 1: Map of London showing Stratford, Google Maps 2022

Stratford regeneration – case study

Stratford then experienced a massive decline. It was one of the most deprived communities in the country, unemployment was high, and health levels were poor. Stratford lacked proper infrastructure, and the environmental quality was poor. This lasted for several decades before it was regenerated prior to the 2012 London Olympics.

Stratford before the decline

Before industrialisation, Stratford was an agricultural community. Being situated so close to London was beneficial as it provided a ready market for its produce. By the 18th century, Stratford became known for potato growing which continued in the mid-1800s. At the same time, the area became known as a country retreat for wealthy merchants and financiers from the City.

Industrialisation started slowly in Stratford, but the Metropolitan Building Act, the arrival of the railway, and the creation of the nearby Royal Docks saw a massive acceleration in industrialisation.

When the Metropolitan Building Act restricted dangerous and toxic industries from operating in the metropolitan area, many businesses relocated to the river banks. Stratford was a significant transport hub by the early 19th century. In 1839, Stratford station was opened, and in 1847, a railway works and depot for engines and rolling stock was established. This brought in a lot of work opportunities, and most of these workers lived in the same town, which eventually became known as Stratford New Town.

Stratford's decline

Deindustrialisation happened throughout London in the 20th century, mainly in the East End. Overall, the UK's share of manufacturing outputs had significantly dropped to 4.9% by 1973, which was even lower than the 9.5% in 1830, pre-Industrial Revolution. Some reasons were the overseas competition, loss of the British Empire, and insufficient industrial and technological innovations.

Deindustrialisation is a process of social and economic change that happens when industrial capacity is either reduced or entirely removed from a region. This leads to a loss of jobs which in turn often causes poverty.

Stratford's deindustrialisation, along with the closure of the Royal Docks, had a massive impact. These docks proved to be a commercial success, and they became the principal docks in London in the first half of the 20th century. This success created many (new) jobs. It would not last long, however.

The death blow to the docks was the creation of containerised cargo and other technological changes. The containerised cargo was much more efficient for transporting goods, but it required larger ships. These ships could not navigate down as far as the Royal Docks. The Royal Docks fell into decline as large container ports were developed further down the river. The Royal Docks eventually closed to commercial traffic in late 1981. This closure led to massive unemployment and social problems across East London, and Stratford was no exception.

All this was about to change, though, with the UK's bid for hosting the 2012 Olympics Games, including the Paralympics, to be hosted in London.

London Olympics regeneration of Stratford

The 2012 Olympic Games, including the Paralympics, brought much-needed regeneration to certain parts of London.

London's successful bid

The UK won the bid over Paris, New York City, Moscow and Madrid. This was due to the plans that London put forward in regards to the games. The plans included sustainability. The area chosen for the games was the Lower Lea Valley, which included Stratford. The Lower Lea Valley was in disrepair, and it would be completely regenerated for the Olympic Games.

The plans laid out for improvements included the expansion of the London Underground, specifically the East London Line, upgrades to the Docklands Light Railway, and the North London Line. They helped secure a better vote for this category.

Why was Stratford chosen?

The London bid team proposed that Stratford was the part of East London most in need of regeneration. The population density per hectare was greater than in London (68.8 to 47.3), the family income in pounds per year was significantly lower than in London (£28,948 to £37,073), and the unemployment percentage was higher than in London (7.8 to 4.5).

Stratford was also chosen for the 500-acre Olympic Park as the area already had existing waste and industrial land. This land would be cleaned up and improved before construction. This made it an ideal location for putting up the park, especially since it was located only seven minutes from Central London.

It was also proposed that the rivers in the area could be restored to make a beautiful Olympic Park.

Planned legacy

In order to win the bid for the Olympic Games, a lot of attention was paid to the aftermath of the games. The organising committee planned some of the following legacies.

Sports venues

An important aspect of the legacy was what to do with the buildings and venues after the games. Some venues were built as permanent venues and got new use after the games. Whenever there was no plan for a specific venue, it would be built as a temporary one. After the games, they either got broken down or relocated to be used elsewhere.

Social and economic benefits

During the bidding process, it was proposed that the games would increase the number of British people participating in sports, which would have both social and health benefits. Disability organisations, such as the Autism Awareness Campaign UK, believed that the Olympic and the Paralympic games would encourage people with any disability to take up sports.

Other legacy items would include:

  • The conversion of the Olympic Village Polyclinic into a lifelong learning centre for the East London Community. This would include a nursery and primary and secondary schools.
  • The conversion of the media and press centre into a creative industries centre for East London.
  • The organiser proposed that 3,000 new permanent jobs would be created by this event.

Transport

As mentioned earlier, better public transport and infrastructure were a major aspect of the bidding process. The improvements and upgrades made have made a lasting legacy impact.

Regeneration in London

The regeneration did not only change Stratford but also London in general. There were advantages and disadvantages to this regeneration.

The Olympic Park

In order to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, new venues needed to be built. The site chosen covered parts of Stratford, Bow, Leyton and Hackney Wick in East London (figure 3). Before construction, the site was a mixture of greenfield and brownfield land, and it included parts of the Hackney Marshes.

Stratford, Location of the Olympic Park - Google Earth, StudySmarterFigure 3: Location of the Olympic Park - Google Earth (2022)

One important aspect of building the venues was to make them out of as much sustainable material as possible.

During its use in the 2012 Games, the following were built:

  • Basketball Arena
  • Copper Box
  • Water Polo Arena
  • Aquatics Centre
  • Velopark
  • Athlete's Village (now known as East Village, London)
  • Olympic Stadium (now known as London Stadium)
  • London Olympics Media Centre

After the Games, the Olympic Park closed and plans were made to reopen it to the public after alterations were made. Some buildings were converted while others were moved to other parts of the country.

2012 was about the Olympic Games and also about the Paralympic Games. The following venues were built for these Games:

  • Eton Manor (now known as the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre)
  • Riverbank Arena (dismantled after the Games)
  • Water Polo Arena (dismantled after the Games)
  • Basketball Arena (dismantled after the Games)
  • Park Live

After its reopening, it was given the name Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, although it is not an official Royal Park.

Pros and cons of the London regeneration

The London Olympics have brought many positive things to Stratford, although there have also been some negatives. While many of the planned legacies were met, there were some disadvantages along the way. The tables below show the social, economic, and environmental legacies' pros and cons.

Social Legacies

ProsCons
  • The Athlete's Village has been made into a housing estate, now called the East Village. Currently, about 40% of the 2,818 houses will be affordable. Eventually, some 8,000 people will be able to live in the 5 new neighbourhoods created from the Olympic Parkland.
  • Before the regeneration, there was a shortage of academic places, but new schools were built. This has given place to about 2,000 pupils between the ages of 3 and 18.
  • The aquatics centre and its 50m pool can now be used by the community, schools and athletes alike.
  • Across the whole of London, overall unemployment fell during the Olympic period.
  • Affordable housing is still unaffordable for the poorest people in Newham. This is because Stratford is now a more affluent area, increasing the cost of living.
  • In some boroughs, unemployment went up during the Olympics rather than down.
  • During the construction of the Olympics, there were very few jobs for local people.
  • In order to create the site, 450 Housing Association flats, which is where the poorer people lived, were torn down.
  • The construction took years, disrupting local communities.

Economic Legacies

ProsCons
  • The infrastructure was significantly improved for the whole area. Stratford is now the 2nd most connected part of London, after King's Cross.
  • More than £9 billion of investment was brought to East London, with the majority of that money spent on transport.
  • Lloyds (bank) estimated that the Olympics generated £10 billion in extra income.
  • All of the Olympic venues have been sold, providing an extra income.
  • The total cost of the 2012 Olympics was almost £10 billion. This was primarily paid by lottery funds, meaning that other things, such as the arts, lost out on a lot of money.
  • The Olympic stadium ended up costing almost 3 times more than initially estimated: £701 million.
  • 380 existing businesses had to move.
  • Approximately 9000 jobs were lost or moved.
  • Property prices, for both renting and buying, went up.

Environmental Legacies

ProsCons
  • The stadiums were made of at least 25% recycled materials.
  • Most of the grounds in the Olympic Park have been kept as parkland, and it is open to the public.
  • New wildlife habitats and green spaces have been created. Examples are ponds, woodlands, and artificial otter holes.
  • The River Lea, which runs through the Park, was improved, including its water quality.
  • Green areas were created along the river banks.
  • The Lower Lea Valley had poor soil conditions, but the soil was cleaned up on site.
  • The Olympic site was mostly built on property that had been neglected, unused and contaminated. This meant that about 560 acres of land had been cleaned in order to build it.
  • Sustainable and biodiverse vegetation that is suited for an urban environment was used. This includes 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants and 60,000 bulbs, and 300,000 wetland plants.
  • During construction, much of the wildlife already there had to be relocated.
  • Many of the materials used for construction came from overseas rather than local businesses.
  • The games produced 3.3 million tons of CO2.

Stratford culture boost

We will see a £1.1 billion 'culture boost' happening soon. Work for this began on East Bank, formerly known as Olympicopolis. It involves University College London (UCL), the BBC, Sadler's Wells, the V&A (Victoria & Albert) and the London College of Fashion.

Construction of all of the buildings mentioned above created 1,500 jobs, with at least 30% of that workforce being local residents. Afterwards, it is predicted that this would support another 2,500 jobs. The buildings are also expected to bring in more tourists, which is an economic benefit.

Living in Stratford now

The aftermath of the 2012 Olympic games has been quite a positive one, even though some of the changes that happened were short-lived.

Some of the reasons Stratford is a good place to live are:

  • There are excellent schools. Out of the three newest schools in the area, two have received an 'Outstanding' award from Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education. This makes Stratford a good place to live if you have children.
  • There are a lot of great places to eat, drink and relax, from cafes and restaurants to theatres. There is also the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, the largest urban shopping mall in Europe.
  • There are a lot of green spaces, from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the Hackney Marshes.
  • Stratford is one of the best-connected areas of London. It will only take you about seven minutes to get from Stratford International to St. Pancras, from where you can go to several places within England as well as to mainland Europe.
  • There are great places to live, such as The Stratford, a 42-storey tower with 248 rental flats and a sky garden.

Stratford regeneration summary

The Industrial Revolution made Stratford a key player, but that status was lost with deindustrialisation. Stratford became one of the most deprived communities in the UK, with low-income families and high unemployment. Stratford's status, along with the already existing waste and industrial land, was the reason it was chosen in the UK's bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The UK won, and the planned legacies were put into action.

  • The waste and industrial land were cleaned.
  • Buildings and venues were built sustainably. This meant that buildings would either be re-purposed on-site or moved to another location.
  • Public transport and infrastructure were significantly improved.
  • Waterways were improved so they would be suited for the new Olympic Park.

East London, and mainly Stratford, was regenerated for the 2012 Olympics, costing around £10 billion.

The Olympic games had a relatively positive impact on the area, with new houses, shops, and schools. This makes Stratford a good place to live. However, all the changes led to Stratford becoming a more affluent place, meaning that it is still not really affordable for poor(er) people.

Stratford - Key takeaways

  • Stratford is located in east London, about 7 miles northeast of Central London.
  • Stratford's decline happened due to deindustrialisation and the closure of the Royal Docks.
  • Stratford was one of the most deprived communities in the UK. It had a high population density, low income, and high unemployment.
  • Because of the deprived status, the existing waste and industrial lands available, and the close location to the City, Stratford was chosen by the UK for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • The UK won the bid, and the regeneration of Stratford and London in general began, ultimately costing approximately £10 billion.
  • The regeneration of Stratford had an overall positive impact, with new affordable houses, a better economy, and a sustainable environment.
  • The regeneration was not favourable for everyone. Due to Stratford becoming more affluent, the majority of the poor(er) people can still not afford housing.
  • Stratford is receiving a £1.1 billion 'culture boost', with a UCL East campus, dance theatre, the BBC, and a V&A museum and collection and research centre.
  • Stratford ultimately went from being a deprived community to a more affluent place to live.

Frequently Asked Questions about Stratford

Stratford was chosen because it was the most deprived community of the UK, it already had existing waste and industrial land, and it was located within 7 minutes of the City.

For the place chosen to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Around £10 billion. Current regeneration in Stratford is set to cost an extra £1 billion.

It was one of the most deprived communities in the UK. Annual wages were low and unemployment was high. This happened due to deindustrialisation and the closure of the Royal Docks. 

Generally speaking, yes. However, with Stratford being more affluent, it is still unaffordable to live for the poor(er) people of the community

Final Stratford Quiz

Question

Where is Stratford located?

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Answer

In East London, about 7 miles from Central London

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Question

What was Stratford like after the decline?

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Answer

It had one of the most deprived communities in the country, unemployment was high, and health levels were poor. Stratford lacked proper infrastructure, and the environmental quality was poor. 

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Question

What was Stratford like before the decline?


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Answer

During the Victorian Era, the Metropolitan Building Act, the new railway, and the creation of the Royal Docks accelerated industrialisation. With it, Stratford saw a lot of work opportunities.

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Question

What caused Stratford's decline?


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Answer

Deindustrialisation and the closure of the Royal Docks

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Question

Why did the Royal Docks close in 1981?


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Answer

The creation of containerised cargo and other technological changes. The containerised cargo was much more efficient for transporting goods, but it required larger ships. These ships could not navigate down as far as the Royal Docks.

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Question

Which 5 cities were in the running to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games?


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Answer

  1. London
  2. Paris
  3. New York City
  4. Moscow
  5. Madrid

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Question

Why was Stratford chosen for the 2012 Olympics?


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Answer

It was one of the most deprived communities of the UK, it had a high population density, low annual income, high unemployment, it had readily available waste and industrial lands for building, and it was located only 7 minutes from the City.

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Question

Which 3 legacies were planned in the bidding process?

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Answer

  1. Sports venues
  2. Social and economic benefits
  3. Transport

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Question

Explain what the legacy for the sports venues was?

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Answer

Buildings that were going to get a new life after the Games were permanent buildings. Buildings that were not getting a new life on-site were temporary ones, and they were relocated elsewhere after the games.

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What were the benefits of the Stratford regeneration?


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Answer

  • Social - new homes were built, with around 1/3 of those becoming more affordable. There are also now academic options for pupils between 3 and 18.

  • Economic - due to improved infrastructure, it has better connections to the rest of London. This means people can find work elsewhere. This led to the multiplier effect. Also, the re-opening of the Royal Docks is causing economic growth.

  • Environmental - Some of the ways the park is sustainable are walking routes, water-efficient design of homes, and protecting natural habitats. 

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Question

The Stratford 'culture boost' is bringing new buildings into the area. Which ones?


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Answer

  • UCL East Campus
  • Sadler's Wells dance theatre
  • The BBC
  • A V&A museum
  • London College of Fashion
  • V&A collection and research centre

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Question

What are some of the reasons that Stratford is a good place to live?


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Answer

  • Great schools
  • Lots of great places to eat, drink, relax, and shop
  • Lots of green spaces
  • Stratford is one of the best-connected areas of London
  • There are great places to live

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Question

How much did the regeneration of Stratford/London cost?


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Answer

Approximate £10 billion

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Question

The Olympic Park got a new name after the Games. What is the new name, and why did it get it?


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Answer

It is now called the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was changed to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

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Question

Was the regeneration of Stratford a positive one for everybody? Explain.


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Answer

No. The area became more affluent, and therefore housing is still unaffordable for the poor(er) people in the community. 

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Name 1 social con.

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Answer

In order to create the site, 450 Housing Association flats, which is where the poorer people lived, were torn down.

Show question

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Name 1 economic con.

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Answer

380 existing businesses had to move

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Question

Name 1 environmental con.


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Answer

For construction, much of the wildlife already there had to be relocated. 

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Question

Why is the Stratford 'culture boost' a positive thing?


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Answer

  • The construction of all the buildings creates 1,500 jobs, with at least 30% of those for local residents.
  • Afterwards, an estimated 2,500 jobs are available.
  • It brings more tourism to the area.

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Question

Apart from hosting the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, Stratford is now also known for what?


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Answer

The Westfield Stratford City - the largest urban shopping mall in Europe.

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