Lee Valley Regional Park is a unique 10,000 acre destination for sport, leisure and nature, stretching 26 miles from the banks of the River Thames in east London into the counties Essex and Hertfordshire.
There are almost 7 million visits to the Regional Park each year, with people taking part in a variety of activities; from sport in inspirational world class venues to enjoying open spaces that are home to a variety of British wildlife.
The park, which is run by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, was created by a 1967 Act of Parliament for the “development, preservation and management for recreation, sport, entertainment and the enjoyment of leisure” for the people of London, Essex and Hertfordshire.
Large scale sports venues have always been part of the Regional Park and today the Authority owns three London 2012 Olympic venues. Two of these are located on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: Lee Valley VeloPark, which offers the four Olympic cycling disciplines; track in the iconic London 2012 velodrome, BMX on a modified version of the Olympic track, road on a one mile circuit and mountain biking on a set of graded trails; and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre which has two state-of-the art hockey pitches and four indoor and six outdoor tennis courts. The third, Lee Valley White Water Centre is 10 miles north of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It staged the London 2012 Canoe Slalom competition and has two separate white water courses for training, rafting and paddling activities as well as cafes, viewing areas and meeting rooms.
The Authority raises 65 per cent of its £29 million gross budget from commercial and other operations while the remainder comes from a levy on households in London, Essex and Hertfordshire – around 88 pence per person annually. It has many years’ experience of running sports venues that are community focused and commercially driven, where comprehensive community programmes are run alongside income generating activities and elite competitions. This same business model has been adopted at its three London 2012 venues, which offer a range of events and programmes for all abilities.
“Our venues have brought some of the world’s top sporting events to London, providing great entertainment and excitement and allowing Londoners and sports fans from across the UK to experience the very best in sporting competition,” says Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.
“The hosting of major international events is a central 2012 legacy objective which sees these venues continue to inspire future generations.”
Established venues that predate the Games include Lee Valley Riding Centre, which specialises in catering for disabled riders, children and a range of horse enthusiasts, and Lee Valley Ice Centre - one of the UK’s leading ice rinks which attracts 300,000 visits a year.
Hosting grassroots and elite
Since opening, the Authority’s three London 2012 venues have staged 17 top international level sporting events. They also hosted more than a quarter of the Every Road to Rio London events, which brought the world’s leading athletes to the capital.
In June 2015, eight times Olympic medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins broke the one hour world track record in Lee Valley VeloPark’s velodrome before a sell-out crowd of 6,000. In March 2016, the venue hosted the UCI Track Cycling World Championships and also regularly hosts the Revolution Series, Britain’s top commercial track cycling competition.
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre has staged the Champions Trophy in June 2016 between the best 10 men’s and women’s teams. In 2015 it staged the Unibet EuroHockey Championships, which was the sport’s biggest event of the year.
In September 2015, Lee Valley White Water Centre was home to the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, the largest international canoeing event outside of the Olympic Games.
These major events dovetail with extensive activities – more than 80% of programming - which is reserved for community, clubs and school groups, a key part of the Authority’s Olympic legacy drive. More than 5,000 children from over 400 schools from across London and further afield have enjoyed free paddling, tennis, hockey and cycling in these inspirational London 2012 venues thanks to the Authority’s Schools Festival outreach programme.
Events already secured for 2017 include Revolution Cycling Champions League, Six Day London and cycling events of the London Youth Games, Europe’s largest youth sports festival comprising 30 different sports.
In June, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre will stage the Men’s World Hockey League with some of the sport’s leading international men’s teams. In November it will host the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters for the fourth time, with the top eight seeded international men’s and women’s players playing for the title.