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?