By Daniel Hunter
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has welcomed the Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge in the National Infrastructure Plan to support the creation of a major new higher education and cultural district on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The ‘Olympicopolis’ project is destined to create ten thousand jobs and boost the UK economy by billions of pounds.
The Mayor and the Chancellor, together with the London Legacy Development Corporation, have agreed to work together on ambitious plans that would potentially see two world class institutions - University College London and Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) - build new sites adjacent to the Stratford waterfront, on land between the Stadium and Stratford station. It’s projected that the cumulative effect of these plans will generate an extra 10,000 jobs in the Park and an extra £5.2 billion of economic value from the area, contributing an additional £99m in tax revenue per year.
UCL’s initial plans, being developed in consultation with staff and partners, would involve the development of activities complementing their ongoing activities in Bloomsbury. These may include a new centre for culture and heritage, a design school, a new biotech hub and an educational technology centre, as well as a space for entrepreneurs.
The V&A’s plans would enable more of its permanent collection to be displayed, as well as providing a showcase for temporary and touring exhibitions in partnership with other leading international museums and galleries, and a centre for research and conservation.
The Mayor's vision for Olympicopolis takes its inspiration from the achievements of Prince Albert, who used the proceeds of the 1851 Great Exhibition to create ‘Albertopolis’ — the 86 acre site around Exhibition Road in South Kensington that is today considered one of the world’s pre-eminent scientific, educational, artistic and cultural hubs.
The Mayor’s aim is that UCL and V&A will form the pillars of a dynamic new hub for 21st century London, attracting further prestigious institutions and businesses to the site to foster collaboration and innovation. As well as creating new visitor attractions, it will seek to attract knowledge based industries to the Stratford site, linking to Tech City, iCITY and beyond.
In the coming weeks, the Government, UCL, V&A and the Mayor will work with all involved in this new partnership on detailed business cases and funding arrangements. Talks with a number of other world renowned institutions keen to explore tie-ins with both UCL and V&A will continue in the New Year.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “As our Olympic park re-opens, I want to raise our ambitions for this magnificent site to squeeze out every drop of potential. The idea behind Olympicopolis is simple and draws on the extraordinary foresight of our Victorian ancestors. We want to use Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a catalyst for the industries and technologies in which London now leads the world in order to create thousands of new jobs. In the clearest possible signal of intent I’m delighted the Chancellor has today added his support to our ambitious plans for growth. That support, added to the commitment from UCL and V&A - two of London's finest global institutions - to anchor the Olympicopolis development, is a massive step forward in its delivery.”
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: "The fantastic regeneration the Olympic Games brought to some of the poorest parts of East London must be continued. This excellent project brings together new housing with a world class university and museum and has the real prospect of creating a new centre of culture and learning in London. I am behind it 100 per cent."
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