Not so affordable housing at the London Olympic Park

Posted: 02/07/2012

The plan for the Olympic Park once the games are over is to change the athlete’s village into ‘affordable’ housing for local communities and providing more housing for the deprived residents of the area. However, the charity Shelter has calculated that an individual would have to earn £30,000 a year to be able to afford one of these ‘affordable’ flats.

When the Olympic Games bid was won seven years ago, one of the agreements was to provide local people with new homes but this is looking more and more unlikely. There are currently 32,000 people on the social housing waiting list for the area and it is looking increasingly unlikely that any sort of dent will be made to that huge figure thanks to the Olympic Park developments.

Over 11,000 new properties will be built within the next 20 years on the Olympic Park but there are growing fears that the change to the social housing policy will mean the majority of local people will not benefit from the thousands of new apartments. There will be 5 new neighbourhoods built on 558 acres of land in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham. The converted apartments in the athlete’s village will be the first set of flats that will go on sale next year and the second will be built to the north of the park called Chobham Manor and will be available in 2014.

Cobham Manor has been planned to include 12 new schools and nurseries, a 17 screen cinema, 300 shops restaurants and bars and 257 acres of open space. The development will be local to 5 universities and include the 5 world class sporting venues as well as being only 15 minutes away from London City and Canary Wharf. Do you think social housing will be built among the extensive amount of facilities included in this development?

Shelter calculates that the average rent for a two bedroom flat in Newham will cost £953 per month. The highest price for a property to be classed as ‘affordable’ is £762 a month. Traditionally, the term ‘affordable’ meant that they homes were built for low income, working class individuals but now the meaning has been redefined into affordable housing being built for young professionals and graduates.

It is believed that the Government will have to offer subsidies for local residents to benefit from the developments in the Olympic Park due to private investors. The Olympic Park will be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park once the games have finished but concerns have been airraised that if private developers take over the park and little public money is put into the development, there will be no affordable housing built for the local community.

What do you foresee happening between the end of the Olympic Games and the opening of each development block? Will the private investors take over the Olympic Park or will the Government take action and provide social housing for the many people on the waiting list?

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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