Since he was elected in May 2016 it has been Sadiq Khan’s policy that 50 per cent of housing built on public land under his control should meet his definition of being “genuinely affordable”. Important further steps towards the implementation of that policy on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have been taken in recent weeks with a view to ensuring that the proportion of “affordable” homes built on the Park under the London Legacy Development Corporation eventually rises to 4o per cent – a minimum of 2,200 – having been below that under housing developments on the Park approved when Boris Johnson was Mayor.
Under Khan, the London Legacy Development Corporation, which will be the planning authority for the Park (and its surrounding area) until it is dissolved by the end of 2024, has been seeking to hit the 50 per cent target through a combination of different affordable percentages on a trio of sites on the Park.
One of these is a piece of land next to the East Bank culture and education centre, which is rapidly taking shape on a bank of the Waterworks River beside the London Aquatics Centre and opposite it. The housing in question will be at the northern tip of the main strip, which is known as Stratford Waterfront.
When Johnson got the project going, under the name Olympicopolis, two very tall residential towers were envisaged as part of the scheme. These were to contain no affordable dwellings, but the idea was that their developer would meet some of the costs of building Olympicopolis.
In one of the more arcane episodes of the Park’s planning history, Khan brought about a re-think following complaints that a tall building already given permission nearby would compromise the historic view of St Paul’s cathedral from King Henry’s Mound in Richmond Park.
Architects Allies and Morrison accordingly produced a new blueprint replacing the two very tall towers with four of about half the height. Outline planning consent for this was granted in 2019 along with a more detailed one for the culture and education buildings.
The other big change was the LLDC seeking a 35 per cent proportion of affordable homes in the East Bank housing. The announced last month that this would be secured as part of a joint venture company it has formed with developer Ballymore. There will be 600 homes on that site altogether, taking shape beside the new V&A East Museum.
The same joint venture will also build out the nearby Bridgewater Triangle scheme on the other side of the bundle of railway lines serving Stratford station just below the larger of the new buildings of East Bank partner University College London. There will be 575 Bridgewater Triangle homes, of which half will qualify as affordable in Khan’s terms, of which 30 per cent will be what is described as “low-cost rent housing”.
Outline consent for the Bridgewater Triangle scheme (pictured) was granted two weeks ago. Just over half of the full total will have two or more bedrooms. The LLDC says these will include “apartments, townhouses and maisonettes” and that “a minimum” of 65 per cent of the affordable homes will have two or more bedrooms.
The development will be right next to the Manor Garden Society’s Pudding Mill Allotments, which were relocated there after the Games following a temporary spell at a site in Waltham Forest. The society’s allotments were originally on a different section of the Park site, where they’d been founded in 1924 as the Manor Garden Allotments (though often referred to as Bully Fen).
Also last month the LLDC made known its search for a joint venture partner for a third housing scheme, at the southern fringe of the Park very close to Stratford. A minimum of 450 homes are expected to be built on a site on Rick Roberts Way, with the intention of around 78 per cent of them being affordable – about 350. The plan as it stands would also fund the building of a new school on land owned by Newham Council.
- East Bank: 600 homes, of which 210 (35 per cent) will be affordable.
- Bridgewater Triangle: 575 homes, of which 288 (50 per cent) will be affordable.
- Rick Rogers Way: 450 homes, of which around 351 (78 per cent) will be affordable.
Total: 1,625 homes across the three sites, of which about 850 – slightly more than 50 per cent – are intended to be affordable under planning permissions conforming to the housing policies of Sadiq Khan.
Dave Hill is the author of Olympic Park: When Britain Built Something Big, available here.