Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Nearly 12 years after the competitions, authorities are still adjusting their plans to deliver on promises made to east Londoners, including on housing.

& In London, the challenges of legacy of the 2012 Games

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In recent years, towers have sprung up in Stratford, around the site of the London Olympic Games.

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Around the Olympic stadium, which has become the home of the West Ham soccer team, a huge commercial district has sprung up in the last decade.< /p>

Adjacent to the aquatic center which attracts 1 million swimmers per year, glass towers house offices, shops and restaurants.

We are only 'Halfway to what we need to deliver, admits Mark Camley, director of parks and venues for the London Legacy Development Corporation. He manages the huge grounds in Stratford, the east London town that hosted the 2012 Olympics.

To finish the whole project will take another 10 or 11 years.

A quote from Mark Camley, Executive Director of Parks and Venues for the London Legacy Development Corporation

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Mark Camley says development plans have evolved to ensure the neighborhood also benefits longtime nearby residents.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">He emphasizes the almost completed construction sites of the buildings which will house a branch of the Victoria & Albert and a university. This will join other post-secondary institutions that have decided to establish branches on the site.

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This young cultural and educational district, called East Bank, was the subject of an investment of 600 million pounds sterling (more than 1 billion Canadian dollars) from London City Hall.

It brought new energy to the site, it allows you to visit, to learn, points out Tasmin Ace, the director of the East Bank.

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The aquatic centre, a legacy of the London Olympics, attracts one million visitors a year, according to the London Legacy Development Corporation.

Leaving a lasting legacy in the east of the British capital was a key promise from the local authorities when they won the Olympic Games in 2005.

Among the achievements mentioned: that of developing a housing offer in this disadvantaged sector of the city.

Of the 30,000 to 40,000 apartments promised, less than half have been built. And while around a third are considered affordable, a small proportion of available units have prices equivalent to social housing.

Unless I came across one of the social housing units, I could no longer live here, notes Julian Cheyne, while walking in this neighborhood that he been forced to leave 16 years ago.

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Julian Cheyne, expropriated because of the Olympics, assures that he could no longer afford accommodation in his old neighborhood.

Today a recipient of social housing in another east London borough, he is one of around 450 residents of a former cooperative district called Clays Lane which were expropriated with compensation in 2007.

Gentrification was going to happen anyway, says Julian Cheyne, who assures that industrial land in the area was in the sights of real estate developers even before the ;attribution of the Olympic Games. According to him, these only accelerated the process.

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In east London, housing need is high.

Visiting researcher at University College London (UCL), Penny Bernstock also says she has noticed a gentrification of the sector.

We have new accommodation. But the problem is that the area has become gentrified and the activities and strategies that have been chosen for the park have increased land values. Housing costs are very, very high.

A quote from Penny Bernstock, Visiting Researcher at UCL and Co-Chair of the Olympic Strategy Group

I cried when the Olympics were awarded, says the academic, evoking the hope she had in terms of development. But today she says she is disappointed with the way in which the promises in terms of housing have come to fruition.

There is a disconnect between what is happening on the Olympic site and the needs of the community, laments Ms. Bernstock. In the four east London boroughs bordering the Olympic Park, more than 75,000 families are waiting for social housing.

Previously, 35% of housing was expected to be affordable. Now it will be 50%, assures Mark Camley, who explains that the development of the sector has been carried out in several stages, with objectives set for 2012, 2014 and 2035.

Mr. Camley also emphasizes that four schools were built to meet the needs of residents of the area, old and new.

It doesn't have to be like a spaceship landing in empty space.

A quote from Mark Camley, Executive Director of Parks and Venues for Legacy Corporation< /blockquote>

Before, it wasn't a very interesting sector, says Orlene Badu, who grew up in this corner of London. She and her husband Nana run a sports and community organization which aims to ensure that those who lived in the neighborhood long before the Olympic Games were awarded can also benefit from its development.

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Entrepreneur and community organizer Nana Badu wants to ensure the development benefits long-term east London residents.

I think any form of regeneration is welcome, says Nana, who also runs a small café at the end of the Olympic site, which has become a venue community gathering.

But this enthusiasm for the radical change that the Stratford area has undergone in the last two decades does not necessarily translate into a blank check to the authorities.

It's big and it shines. […] Ultimately, for us, it must also benefit the people who were here before, says Dada Badu, who wants to ensure that the housing, just like the thousands of promised jobs, also goes to the residents long-time partner of East London.

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The former Olympic stadium now hosts the soccer team of West Ham.

Years after the competitions, defenders of the project and opponents use very different terms to describe what happened in Stratford. If some speak of inheritance (legacy), others rather evoke after-effects (aftermath).

But at the finish line, everyone shares the same observation: the Olympic Games have completely transformed the face of the neighborhood.

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