As Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, prepares to receive the keys to the Olympic Park at midnight tonight, London Assembly Member Andrew Boff calls on the Mayor to ensure that the plans for the future Olympic Park housing live up to the high standards that Londoners have been promised.
A report, Radically Normal, was published by Mr Boff earlier this month and made recommendations for how the current plans can be improved. It argues that the building of over 8,000 homes on the Olympic Park over the next 20 years represents a generation-defining opportunity to build high-quality family homes and spur the regeneration of this area of east London.
Andrew Boff, GLA Conservatives Leader, said, “Done well, the development of the Olympic Park has the ability to re-define regeneration in London. But as some of the plans for the housing currently stand, Londoners are not getting what they have been promised. Despite the future of the Olympic Park being promoted as one of predominantly family-orientated neighbourhoods, the bulk of the housing will still be apartments.”
The report recommends that the organisation responsible for new homes, the London Legacy Development Corporation, now chaired by the Mayor should:
Update its definition of family housing to mean homes with four bedrooms or more. It should also have a separate target for five per cent of homes to have five bedrooms or more.
Re-think its plans for the Marshgate Wharf neighbourhood as the current proposals do not fit with the overall ambitions of the Legacy Communities Scheme outline planning application.
Re-appraise the headline environmental standards so that new homes are highly energy efficient i.e. building to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, or higher.
Designate one, or part of one of the developments as a zero carbon demonstration development, to re-establish the ambitions that were embodied in the now defunct One Gallions zero-carbon housing project.
Mr Boff continued: “London needs more, larger, high-quality family-sized homes to combat our deepening housing crisis. These homes should be built to the highest environmental standards and push industry boundaries, rather than just conforming to forthcoming legal requirements. As this report shows, this needn’t occur at the expense of the public purse. In fact, significant value can be created by following these principles.
“Designing and building terraced houses that look normal and repetitive, yet in which people want to live, takes courage. Yet this radically normal approach is one that should be taken in the Olympic Park. The design of Chobham Manor – the first neighbourhood to be built on the Park – was a breath of fresh air, but outline plans for the other neighbourhoods do not meet these high standards. It is important that the four other future Olympic Park neighbourhoods build on Chobham Manor’s example. Everyone wants the Olympic Park to be a success, not least because as taxpayers, we all want to see a return on our investment. We should work hard to make it the best it can possibly be.”