Submitted by: James Cracknell
A park revamped with money from the Olympic Games has been well received by locals in Leyton – who waited nearly three years to use it.
Drapers Field in Temple Mills Lane was paved over and used as a storage facility during London 2012 but is now once again in use a popular park after £2million was spent improving its facilities.
The decision to close the green space in September 2011, for use by the Olympic Delivery Authority, was a controversial one at the time. It was used by 9,000 people a month, including many who enjoyed its all-weather football pitches.
But during London 2012 the whole area was fenced off and covered in asphalt and not until March 2013 was the green space was finally handed back to the council, after which another year of work lay ahead before the revamped Drapers Field could open again in June this year.
New facilities paid for with Olympic legacy money include a cycling proficiency course, children’s play area and cafe. The all-weather football pitches have also been replaced and upgraded, along with the changing rooms and toilets.
Table tennis, climbing frames, water fountains, trampolines and an unusual undulating design make the playground stand out from others in the borough.
Park users told the Waltham Forest Echo the revamp was worth the wait.
Mum, Merry Jarvis, took her seven-year-old daughter Milly. She said: “We had seen it being built and Milly has wanted to play here for a while.
“I like the cafe and she is enjoying the water fountains. The Olympic Games was a phenomenal event and it brought in a lot of money so I think sacrificing one park for a few years was okay.”
Ali Mohamed had taken his young boys to the park and they enjoyed it so much he took them back again the next day. “We loved it so we came back,” he said. “It is a new style of play area, it’s very nice.
“I used to play football here before so I remember what it is like, and this is an improvement. I’ve been playing football somewhere else while this park was closed but in my view it was worth it.”
The council had bowed to the demands from London 2012 organizers on condition that there would be money to upgrade Drapers Field after the Games were over. The park is likely to be well used thanks to its location on the edge of the Athletes’ Village, now being converted into a residential area.
Council leader Chris Robbins said: “It’s a wonderful place and packed with local people young and old enjoying everything from the water fountains to the table tennis, not to mention the football.
“Anyone who wants to see something tangible and lasting that the Olympic and Paralympic Games has brought to this borough as a legacy should get themselves down here. It’s fantastic.”
Some people may still question whether the loss of Drapers Field for nearly three years – only one of which was spent on the revamp itself – was strictly necessary. But the end result seems far easier to agree upon.