Since the close of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, 'legacy' has been the word on everyone's lips. As Olympic host nation, the UK's challenge was to deliver a successful, sustainable Games, position London as a global city and improve the lives of Londoners through the regeneration of deprived areas.
These aspirations were perhaps ambitious considering the limited success of Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing in delivering a meaningful legacy. However, prime Mminister David Cameron seems confident that the impact of the Games "isn't just for the summer, but for good", a statement reinforced by the fact that the Games were planned with legacy in mind.
In preparation for the Games and the development of the Athlete's Village, the Lower Lea Valley was overhauled, with businesses relocated, pylons removed, power lines put underground, sewerage re-routed, the River cleaned up and land decontaminated. Post-Paralympics, a transition plan will be activated over a two year period, that will see stadia dismantled, removed or reduced in size, the Athlete's Village sold and the campus becoming a green and pleasant land for locals.
The transition from sports campus to a piece of city is not easy. Tensions on the future use of the main stadium, athletics or football, and the long-term use of the Broadcasting/media centre are still to be resolved. However, the indications are that the location has been firmly established and development interest will be attracted into the area.
However, there's a bigger legacy on the horizon, one which was not a part of the initial plans but has long been a frustrated dream that is now on the brink of being realised: tilting London's centre of gravity a few degrees to the east and unlocking the same opportunities and investment on offer in central and west London into the less well off eastern hemisphere of the capital. The big legacy gain of London 2012 may be to deliver the gravity-shifting momentum needed to create a destination in east London for investment and development that people will choose to visit, work and live in.
London 2012 has been the latest piece in the jigsaw for the eastward consolidation of London, which has been based around the regeneration of Stratford. This story starts almost 20 years ago, with the decision to build Stratford International as a key stop on the Eurostar. Canary Wharf then blazed the trail for business and financial services in east London, and the O2 Centre, EXCEL and London City Airport all added to the momentum. However, whilst successful in their own right, they were not game changers on the scale of London 2012.
The area is a stone throw from the City and the rest of central London and has superb local, regional and international travel connections. The interchange on the Central Line, DLR and mainline rail services is due to be supplemented by Crossrail in 2018, and connectivity has been further enhanced by a wide network of bus routes.
All of this raises the prospect of a new growth triangle formed by the City, Canary Wharf and Stratford. There is available land, much of it in public ownership, and the local Councils and the Mayor are generally supportive towards growth proposals.
However, the tilt in the capital's centre of gravity has not come about as a result of long-term strategic planning or a unified delivery structure - it has been built around hero projects with the Games the latest and biggest. Compare our approach for example with Holland. Four years ago, the Dutch assembled a government team to put together proposals for Amsterdam's bid for the 2028 Olympics. The rationale was simple; it will take a 20 year lead-in to really understand how the Netherlands can integrate an Olympics into its 60 year planning and land use strategies. This, sadly, is not the British way.
While the Olympic and Paralympic Games have tipped the centre of gravity in the capital a few degrees east, we now need the next hero mega-project. Then we will truly cement London's "golden triangle" between Stratford, the City and Canary Wharf. Crossrail2 is the most plausible option with a new route chosen to reflect current realities, not the Chelsea to Hackney route proposed in the 1970s. The other candidate is of course the development of the Royal Docks which already has the infrastructure in place and with the advent of the cable car and the Siemens Pavilion, has all the conditions in place to finally take off.
The London 2012 legacy will not only have been to inspire a generation and show the rest of the world what our capital city is made of. The Olympic and Paralympic Games will also show future host nations how in a world of scarce economic resources, mega-events can be used to provide a platform to stimulate urban gravitational shifts and yield longer-term benefits and prosperity. It is for other cities to take up the challenge and deliver their events even more successfully.