UK Politics

Olympics ruined London wasteland - writer Iain Sinclair

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionOlympics ruined London wasteland says writer Iain Sinclair

The writer Iain Sinclair who has spent decades documenting London tells the Daily Politics why he thinks the Olympic development in east London has ruined one of the capital's most magical wildernesses.

The promoters of the great Olympic project keep telling us there was nothing here before they started - that it was a wasteland.

But knowing the area for so long, I'm at a loss because what was here was not a wasteland.

It was a place with all kinds of interesting human possibilities - industries, nature, and a wilderness that you could enjoy and be part of, as an escape from the density of east London.

It was one of the most magic margins of London, reduced by their activities to a toxic wilderness.

Cycling and fishing

The special quality of this spurned landscape is that it mixed decaying industrialism with grunge pastoral - something for everybody.

A wild nature of wild orchards that everyone was free to wander.

We're now in danger of losing all that for some concrete arcadia, some future-generated futurology and I'm sad about that.

One of the consequences in creating the bright new future is the expulsion of the inconvenient past, the people who used to be here - living in warehouses, walking on the marshes, cycling and fishing.

They all had to make way. The whole population was dispersed.

Image caption London will be left with a 'flat-pack stadium' in the east of the city claims Iain Sinclair

One of the consequences of the great Olympic village is the privatisation of public space and the huge growth in the apparatus of security.

We have created an area that has to be protected then we demand the money to do it.

So this is the legacy that all the fuss has been about: a flat-pack stadium, an aquatic centre that looks like a concrete factory, a gigantic artwork and an enormous shopping mall.

I don't think that it's been worth it.

I think back to the wonderful wilderness that was here before - not a wasteland - and one of the most manifest, rich and deserving parts of London and I'm sorry to lose it.

Mr Sinclair debated his ideas on Wednesday's Daily Politics with Conservative MP Nick Herbert and Labour MP Caroline Flint. The programme can be seen for seven days (UK viewers only) on iPlayer.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites