London 2012: Westfield Stratford to close doors on non-ticket holders


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The Independent Online

The Westfield Stratford City shopping centre will have limited access to the public for the next two days to prevent overcrowding.

Transport chiefs gave the public just 24 hours’ notice that Westfield Stratford City — gateway to the Games — would be closed to the public tomorrow and Saturday from 10.30am to 5pm.

About 250,000 workers and spectators will stream to the Olympics over the next 48 hours as the track cycling and athletics events get under way.

The majority will pass through Westfield, which is the link between Stratford station and the Olympic park.

Only Games workers, ticket-holders and Westfield staff will be allowed access to the busiest shopping centre in London over the next two days, though it will reopen fully on Sunday.

The decision was made late last night after days of resistance from Westfield’s Australian owners. Sources at the company — an official Olympic sponsor — have claimed that transport bosses have not done enough to promote alternative routes into the park.

Transport for London denies this. Westfield has seen daily sales rise by up to fourfold during the Games but such gains will be reduced by the two-day closure.

TfL today insisted that the closure was always part of the travel management plan. A spokesman added that it had “absolutely nothing” to do with correcting the balance between Stratford’s Olympics sales boom and the West End’s “ghost town” syndrome.

Westfield’s development director, John Burton, said one factor in the decision was spectators arriving later than expected for events, resulting in a “bunching” effect.

“So far the transport systems have worked and we’ve not had a failure,” he said. “That makes people more comfortable about travelling so we’ve not had the spread of arrivals that we might have expected.”

He added that he did not believe there would be a major downturn in revenue for the mall. “There will be more than enough business to go round. There will be huge numbers, more than enough to make up for the shoppers,” he said.