E20 has gone from being a fictional postcode in Eastenders to London’s newest and, some might say, most desirable postcode. Housing is the media’s focus of the regeneration of any area, but transport and infrastructure, schools and community facilities are key to any successful development.
Transport: The 2012 Olympics led to £9bn of investment in east London, largely into transport. Stratford is now the second most connected station in London, with talk of a connection to the Eurostar. When Crossrail and Crossrail 2 arrive, the east of London will be as connected as the rest of the capital.
Schools: Chobham Academy opened in 2013 and has been rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, and aims to sit at the centre of the community.
Community: The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the largest recreational space created in Europe in the last 150 years, bringing a much needed community facility to the area.
Olympics legacies are often judged on the revival of their landmarks. Previous host cities of the Olympics are haunted by ‘White Elephants’. This was a risk for London, particularly with venues such as the aquatics centre which cost three times more than the initial budget. However the eight permanent sports buildings have been revived into community facilities or now house anchor tenants such as BT Sport. Later this year West Ham will start their season at the Olympic Stadium. The success of these stadia post-Olympics should result in an on-going stream of community users and visitors over years to come.
East London’s population is projected to grow by 600,000 in the next 15 years. By 2030, there will be five residential neighbourhoods on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will include reasonably priced homes for Londoners. The East Village, which once housed the athletes, contains a mix of private housing, social accommodation and affordable housing where residents pay 80% to 90% of the market rate. However, gentrification inevitably leads to prices rising.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the London Borough of Newham has the lowest tenth percentile weekly salary in England and Wales. Consider this with Newham experiencing a 22% increase in property prices in 2015. The people who called Newham their home pre-2012 can no longer afford to live there.
London’s Personal Best?
Without question, had London not hosted the 2012 Olympics, east London may have never experienced the regeneration that it has today, but there is still work to be done in particular with the availability of suitable housing for its residents. Regeneration brings visitors and newcomers to an area, but it must also cater for its existing residents.
What we have not yet seen is the impact that the occupancy of the commercial spaces will have. As the City moves slowly east, with the undeniable effect of ‘Silicon Roundabout’ changing the boundaries of the square mile, office and commercial space in E20 can only become more covetable.
The 2012 Olympics legacy is without a doubt a success story that Rio can learn from, and we look forward to seeing what they have in store for their City. But for the moment, our focus is on Team GB!