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Olympic Park transformation hailed

The Olympic Park is being transformed into the largest new urban park for a century, which will include a "21st century pleasure garden", organisers said.

The summer's flag-waving crowds are long gone and in the January cold, work to convert the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as it has now become, is well under way, with temporary buildings and bridges being stripped out.

Plans for the pleasure garden around the Olympic stadium include a wide tree-lined avenue and a series of "outdoor rooms" with lawns designed to pick up afternoon sun, play areas and even space for a carousel.

The northern end of the park will be a wilder area, with a greater focus on wildlife as well as being a good place for a family day out, according to the London Legacy Development Corporation which is redeveloping and managing the site.

More than 4,000 trees, 127,000 shrubs and more than a million herbaceous plants will be planted across the park.

Work has already started on the northern parts of the park, which will also incorporate a cafe and play areas from toddlers up to teenagers close to the velodrome and involve conversion of the BMX track to allow wider use and miles of mountain bike trails.

But before the work planting up the southern plaza's pleasure gardens can begin in March, much of the hard-surfaced concourse outside the Olympic stadium has to be removed.

The work forms part of efforts to turn the park, which had to accommodate up to 200,000 people at any one time during the Games, back to a more "human scale".

Phil Askew, project sponsor for landscape and public realm, said: "This will be a very significant new urban park, the largest new urban park in this country for a century.

"The south of the park will be much more urban in nature, it will be a festival-ly, bustling, busy area. When you go up to the north it's seen as a much more verdant, green area with biodiversity and ecology as well as being a great place to have a family day out."

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