News: The Olympics housing legacy is at risk say Newham Citizens
Newham Citizens have written to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to register their disappointment at the GLA’s approval of the Stratford Waterfront development despite the provision of ‘affordable’ housing on the development being entirely shared ownership homes which are out of the reach of local incomes. On April 30 th , members of Newham Citizens, part of TELCO (The East London Citizens Organisation), attended the Planning Committee meeting at the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), to register their objection to 35% of the 600 homes expected to be built as part of the £1bn development. While the scheme gained the approval of the LLDC planning committee, elected local authority representatives from Newham, Hackney and Waltham Forest voted against the scheme because of the lack of genuinely affordable housing.
Newham Citizens leaders feel that affordable housing is a key Olympic Legacy commitment that has been abandoned at Stratford Waterfront with viability given as a key explanation, and in particular that ‘the construction of large, high quality cultural and educational buildings’ bears significant costs that result in significant scheme deficit in viability terms.
They also stress that 35% affordable housing is 15% below the 50% commitment on public land made under Ken Livingstone as part of the original agreement with local people. Also, a 100% shared ownership development is at odds with the Supplementary Planning Guidance and local plan guidance. The gap between local incomes and likely cost of shared ownership housing is staggering and simply not affordable for local people.
The group has asked residents of the Olympic legacy boroughs to come forward and register their views on a survey to be presented to the GLA and LLDC showing the strength of feeling on housing in the borough.
Sean Connolly, Priest of St Stephen’s Church in Manor Park and a member of the Newham Citizens Olympics Strategy Team said : “Whilst we welcome the new housing on the Park, it is clear that initial promises of 50% affordable housing have been compromised. We feel the LLDC and the GLA have missed the mark and have fallen short of Lord Coe’s claim that the Olympics ‘would be a catalyst for investment creating new quality housing, much of which would be affordable.’”
Dr Penny Bernstock, former Director of the Centre for East London Studies, and co-chair of the Newham Citizens Olympics Strategy Team, said : “The cost of shared ownership housing in Stratford bears no relationship with median or average incomes, and we do not want the Olympic Housing Legacy to become another ‘white elephant’.
“We’d like to see Stratford Waterfront have an inclusive model that meets the needs of a range of groups, taking inspiration from developments like Coin Street, which played an important role in ensuring low income groups could live on the Southbank. We want something equally imaginative for East Bank. We are asking the LLDC to work with us to deliver a meaningful housing legacy for EastEnders.”