My word, now isn’t this the very grand surprise?

When London won the bid in July 2005, its backers billed it as a groundbreaking moment. Previous Olympics had done so much damage to host cities, leaving behind useless venues, unleashing property speculation and social displacement. But London’s bid was different. It vowed to be “a model for social inclusion”. Its legacy would be “the regeneration of the area for the direct benefit of everyone that lives there”. Sebastian Coe, chair of London’s organising committee, promised that the regeneration of the area in and around the Olympic park would produce 30,000-40,000 new homes, “much of which will be ‘affordable housing’ available to key workers such as nurses or teachers”.

Ten years on from the patriotic pageant that brought the nation together to bask in director Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, with its pastoral vision of merrie England and cavorting NHS nurses, just 13,000 homes have been built on and around the Olympic site. Of these, only 11% are genuinely affordable to people on average local incomes. Meanwhile, in the four boroughs the site straddles – Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest – there are almost 75,000 households on the waiting list for council housing, many living in desperate poverty. Thousands of former residents have also been rehoused outside the area since the Olympics took place.

Grand plans to grandly plan everything turn out to be grand fuck ups.

We’re all very surprised that this is the result of letting government loose with £20 billion, right?

16 thoughts on “My word, now isn’t this the very grand surprise?”

  1. Stratford and the surrounding area is about a thousand times better now than it was in 2005. Whilst parts are true, the article bears little resemblance to reality for those of us who actually live near the place.

  2. My guess is this guy is quite fine with accommodating a city the size of Southampton coming in every year on boats across the Channel, and hasn’t the brain to realise the Linkage with 75,000 families on waiting lists for social housing (many of whom would have come over on earlier boats in previous decades in those boroughs no doubt)

  3. There are a few giveaways in the text :

    Instead, the legacy has just meant gentrification on an industrial scale.”
    Like that is necessarily a Bad Thing.

    A demographic survey in 2018 found that 80% of the employees at the Olympic park’s “employment hub” were white – compared to 31% in the local area.
    Ditto

    I used to work in Stratford in the 1980s. It was a dump. I thought that the only way to improve matters was a revisit from the Luftwaffe.
    My main beef on this subject is that Stratford International and Stratford Mainline stations are so far apart ( less walking than stabbing distance), but the same bad planning is also evidenced at Ebbsfleet.

  4. The area between the River Lee and City Mill River was heavily polluted. I doubt any redevelopment of the area would have been possible without ‘government level’ backing, because the costs of remediating soil and groundwater were so high. Also, it was much more effective to remediate the larger area than try and remediate individual plots bit by bit.

  5. Before the Olympic redevelopment, the area that is now the Olympic Park was a waste land of builder’s yards, derelict buildings, low grade warehouses and light industrial units and car breakers. It certainly needed gentrification as did Stratford town centre and the wider area.

    Including the “four boroughs that the site straddles” to get to a 75,000 waiting list is a bit of a game as well. Waltham Forest barely has any part of the park inside its border, Hackney has a small area in the north-west, Tower Hamlets a small strip on the west, but the majority is in Newham.

    Social Housing providers operate on a financial model where the majority of what they build is for private rent or sale, the proceeds of which and grants pay for the affordable housing.

  6. just 13,000 homes have been built on and around the Olympic site. Of these, only 11% are genuinely affordable to people on average local incomes. Meanwhile, in the four boroughs the site straddles – Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest – there are almost 75,000 households on the waiting list for council housing, many living in desperate poverty.

    London through the Ages, then.. Just instead of a fire, there were the Olympics.
    The whining about this same thing concerning London can be found as far back as William the Conqueror.. And in some form even the Roman Era..

  7. Chap I was at school with got elevated to the steerage as a result of his work on organizing the London Olympics. So it seems it worked out all right for some of those involved . .

    llater,

    llamas

  8. “The area between the River Lee and City Mill River was heavily polluted. I doubt any redevelopment of the area would have been possible without ‘government level’ backing, because the costs of remediating soil and groundwater were so high. Also, it was much more effective to remediate the larger area than try and remediate individual plots bit by bit.”

    That was £13m of the £9bn spent. If we want to do that (which doesn’t sound like an unreasonable use of government money), why not just do that instead of attaching it to a load of table tennis and horse ballet?

  9. Government project promised to further social inclusion, ended up benefiting and subsiding the middle class. I’m shocked.
    (And I say that as a beneficiary living in the area).

  10. “Before the Olympic redevelopment, the area that is now the Olympic Park was a hive of economic activity, including builder’s yards, warehouses, light industrial units, and car breakers.” There, that’s corrected for you.

    What became of the businesses, of the people who worked for them, of the taxes they paid? Silence. It’s as if Bastiat had never lived.

  11. “only 11% are genuinely affordable”

    not a big fan of this kind of argument. “Affordable housing”. Surely the point is if you increase the supply of housing in general, then prices in general will come down. So let them build whatever is most profitable, to encourage them to build it.

  12. A very large percentage of the area was railway prior to the Olympics:
    Thorntons’ Field carriage sidings (gifted to the railway by the chocolate bloke apparently, in perpetuity. Taken from the railway for the games as they were ‘not for profit’ or summat – boy, they got that right), Stratford East carriage sidings, Temple Mills East and West Yards, Stratford Loco, Stratford Freightliner terminal, London International Freight Terminal.

  13. @Rob Fisher,
    As I understand it, housing is only affordable if it’s been built at the taxpayer’s expense, then sold or let cheaply to public sector parasites selfless angels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *