London "Olympicopolis" questioned as jobs and housing plan for Olympic Park defended

Wednesday, 15 January 2014
By Paul Osborne at City Hall in London

The LLDC's plans for a new Olympicopolis were put to the test at London's City Hall today following scrutiny from the London Assembly ©Getty ImagesJanuary 15 - "Olympicopolis" was the word of the day in City Hall here today as members of the London Legacy Development Corporation, including chairman and London Mayor Boris Johnson, were shoved under the spotlight to answer all manner of questions on the legacy of London 2012. 

With questions swaying from Legacy Company funding, Community Land Trusts and housing on the former Olympic site, it was the latter that drew most queries from members of the London Assembly and which Johnson dubbed "Olympicopolis".

Inspired by Prince Albert's "Albertopolis", which used proceeds from the 1851 Great Exhibition to create the 86-acre site around Exhibition Road in South Kensington which now includes the Royal Albert Hall, Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and the Science Museum, the project looks to create a new educational and cultural quarter at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

It should, according to the Mayor, bring about thousands of jobs and major investment to the area.

Early plans for the project would see University College London (UCL) and V&A build new sites adjacent to the Stratford waterfront, on land between the Stadium and Stratford station.

A new UCL campus would see a new design school, centre for culture and heritage, biotech hub and technology centre alongside start-up space for entrepreneurs, while the V&A is planning a space to exhibit more of its permanent collection as well as providing opportunities for touring exhibitions.

"As our Olympic Park reopens, I want to raise our ambitions for this magnificent site to squeeze out every drop of potential," said Johnson.

"We want to use the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a catalyst for the industries and technologies in which London now leads the world."

The new 'Olympicopolis' will be situated between the Olympic Stadium and Stratford station and could bring up to 10,000 jobs to Londoners accoriding to Boris Johnson ©Getty ImagesThe new 'Olympicopolis' will be situated between the Olympic Stadium and Stratford station and could bring up to 10,000 jobs to Londoners according to Boris Johnson ©Getty Images



Although all well and good in theory - a sentiment echoed by the Assembly - issues arose when questions were raised on housing, and the Legacy Company's commitment to supply affordable housing to those on a low income.

This new project would see the current figure of 6,800 homes, set to be built on the new Olympic Park, reduced by up to 1,000, a point not lost on Assembly members, who began turning the screw on Johnson and his colleagues Neale Coleman, deputy chairman of the Legacy Company, and Dennis Hone, its chief executive.

Members, notably Labour's Nick Gavron and Tom Copley, questioned the effect this would have on affordable homes in the Park, of which there is a set target of between 20 and 35 per cent, and queried whether the numbers would be made up elsewhere in order to factor in this loss of housing.

In his normal defiant way, Johnson jumped to the defence of the project claiming the economic growth it would spur in the area would far outweigh the loss of homes and will help in the development of another 24,000 homes across the local London Boroughs, due to the interest it will provide potential developers.

Although not a direct answer to the questions raised, Johnson did emphasise the need for jobs in the area, claiming this new project could bring up to 10,000 new jobs to Londoners and the 24,000 new homes would provide adequate housing for those who needed it.

Contact the writer of this story at paul.osborne@insidethegames.biz


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