Londoners planning a spot of indoor skiing will no longer need to trek to Milton Keynes: a huge new ski centre is planned for the Olympic Park, it was announced yesterday.
Plans sketched out back in 2011 are to become a reality, although its not the old Media Centre that's about to get a dumping of "snow", but an as-yet unused patch of land near Stratford's Westfield shopping centre.
London's first indoor ski centre will offer several ski runs of varying difficulty, plus snowboard ramps and an ice-skating rink. The longest run will be 300 metres, and there'll also be toboggan runs and snow-play zones where children and beginners can enjoy the Alpine conditions. Après ski has also been planned, with shops, a hotel and restaurants part of the planning application.
The east London site will be twice the size of the UK's other indoor snow centres at Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead; planners are comparing it to Ski Dubai, the world’s biggest indoor snow centre, in the United Arab Emirates.
It is thought that the project (costing up to £200 million, and funded by Westfield Stratford City) could be ready to open in 2015. It's predicted to attract 3 million visitors each year.
The announcement was made as London gets ready to celebrate the first anniversary of the 2012 Games, with athletics returning to the Olympic Stadium this weekend for the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games. It also coincides with a BBC poll stating more than two-thirds of people think the money spent on the Olympic Games was "worth it".
Boris Johnson who announced the plans said, "One year on from London's Olympic and Paralympic Games and we are defying the skeptics who prophesied a herd of white elephants.
"Westfield’s plans for a world-class indoor ski centre (...) underscores the massive confidence in this area from investors which is delivering a real payback for taxpayers in terms of jobs and the regeneration of east London."