If all the problems with the 2012 Olympics, such as radioactive contamination on the site and McDonalds sponsoring the volunteering, weren’t enough, Siemens is now planning to build a £30 million ‘sustainability visitor attraction and conference facility’ at the Royal Victoria Dock to be operational by early 2012. This is being organised by Siemens, The Major of London and the Major of Newham Borough Council to be the ‘flagship project’ in the heart of a new ‘Green Enterprise District’.
The pavilion will host hundreds of Siemens employees and ‘boost’ the visitor and tourist economies in London. The Royal Docks is being billed as the biggest development opportunity related to the Olympics, promoted at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo to encourage Chinese investment.
The Green Enterprise District will stretch across East London, covering six London boroughs (Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham and Havering). The plan is to exploit the potential from undeveloped industrial land to attract investment and position London as a ‘global leader of the low carbon economy’. The London Development Agency has done some initial research on the potential of the low carbon marketplace for business and found it is a market worth ‘investing in’. The District will be part of the Thames Gateway, which is Europe’s largest urban regeneration project of its type, covering 48 square kilometres of land. It will focus on developing environmental goods and services, such as recycling, biomass, wind and alternative fuel vehicles, with the aim of stimulating a marketplace in low carbons products and creating business connections between the companies involved, fuelling their demand for each other’s products. This does not, however, sound genuinely sustainable. Rather, it is using ‘low carbon’ as a way of attracting more investment and boosting business in London in the current economic situation.
In much the same way, the Elephant and Castle, in Southwark, South London, is going to undergo a £1.5bn transformation with commercial ‘partners’ Lend Lease. Under the guise of environmental redevelopment, there will be a new shopping centre. In total, the project will provide up to 800,000 square feet (75,000 m²) of retail space.