29 April 2019 World Urban Parks - World Parks Week interview We're running a series of articles throughout the World Urban Parks World Parks week (April 27 to May 4 - 2019) to celebrate a Green Flag Award park from many of the countries that we operate in. Green Flag Award park name Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Interviewee Chris Moran, Park Services Manager - London Legacy Development Corporation How many years have you held the Green Flag Award? Five years! Let’s start by getting to know your park or green space with a brief introduction Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has welcomed more than 27 million visitors since it opened in 2014. It is a green magnet attracting people to its 226 hectares of parkland and open space, 12 hectares of woods with 13,000 trees, 6.5km of waterways and two amazing playgrounds as well as its five world-class sporting venues. It offers something for everyone from thrill-seekers wanting to ride the Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit or watch a fantastic event to those just wanting to soak up the views, beautiful parkland and wonderfully diverse environment. It is free, safe and open every day of the year providing a wonderful green link between the Thames, Lee Valley Regional Park and Hackney Marshes creating an ecological corridor and providing a haven for wildlife. The people who use our spaces are what brings them to life. Tell us a little bit about your regular visitors and any particular groups or organisations you work with. Local people make up the bulk of the more than 6 million visitors who come to the Park each year. But visitors from across the country and overseas also come in large numbers, drawn to the world-class events and venues. Thousands of schoolchildren use the Park as an open-air classroom while careful landscaping with few steps, gentle slopes and ample benches encourage less agile visitors. 450 Park Champions give their time freely to support events, help visitors and run the Park Mobility Service.User satisfaction ratings are 8.9 out of 10 and 78% of respondents stating they are return visitors. Parks and green spaces are constantly evolving. Tell us about any developments or changes that you are working on over the coming year? Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opened five years ago and it’s hard to think of a time when it hasn’t been in a state of change. We have many one-off and temporary events on the Park – both big and small – aimed at attracting people onto the parkland which means there’s always something going on. In addition, we’re putting a lot of effort into improving the connections into the surrounding neighbourhoods. We’re opening two new bridges to make sure that areas that used to have poor connections are opened up, especially encouraging pedestrians and cyclists. We’re asking everyone to share their passion for the parks and green spaces during World Parks Week. What key message would you like to give about the importance of parks and green spaces? There is a lot of scientific and medical research that shows how parks and green spaces are beneficial for your physical and mental health - reducing blood pressure, levels of stress and allowing you to enjoy nature and big skies. Park and green spaces are a vital part of our urban lifestyle helping us to cope with the pressures and strains of life, switching off from the rat race and switching on to a calmer, more peaceful environment. And finally, what does having a Green Flag Award mean to you as a professional and also to the community that use your park or green space? The Green Flag Award is not just a symbol of the high standards achieved on the park. It is a clear and proud signal that our gardeners, designers, volunteers and visitors care deeply and passionately about where we live. It tells the world that we place great value on having a space that is open and accessible, free of charge, to everyone. It is the glue that binds our neighbourhoods and communities together creating a safe environment where people can meet, relax, share and enjoy the things that are most important to them. Further information: You can view Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park's Green Flag Award profile page here and click through to the official parks page to find out more.