In an embarrassing blow to the Olympic Park Legacy Company, charged with ensuring the event produces a lasting benefit for London, its 25-year housebuilding programme has been condemned as boring, mercenary and lacking in vision.
Clive Dutton, head of regeneration, planning and property at Newham council, delivered a stinging attack on the proposals.
In a letter to Vivienne Ramsey, head of development control at the Olympic Delivery Authority, which will rule on the plans this summer, he claims the proposals “lack vision” and will resemble a “large housing estate” which “fails to excite or enthuse”.
The council is calling for more employment opportunities, educational facilities, and public transport for the site.
Dutton also pours scorn on the strategy of using traditional house designs, particularly designs based on the classic London town house. “Innovative, world-class design is essential,” said Dutton. “However, the work to date does not appear to be particularly groundbreaking.”
In its' application the legacy company proposes that just over a third of the housing on the site will be affordable and aimed at first-time buyers. Dutton is deeply concerned that these promises will end up being watered down for financial reasons.
Hackney Council alleges that the decision to make the development housing-led has been driven by a desire to maximise profit, and not to create the best-possible legacy for London.
Tower Hamlets, meanwhile, objects to the amount of affordable housing planned, and warns that there is not enough open space. Waltham Forest Council, while broadly supportive of the scheme, is concerned that the sheer volume of housing planned will saturate the local market in the medium term, causing local price stagnation.
A spokesman for the Olympic Park Legacy Company said refinements to its proposals would be unveiled next month. “We have put forward a bold vision for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with family housing at its core,” he said, pointing out that as well as houses there will be schools, shops, parks and office space. “We welcome comments as part of the consultation process and will continue to work with stakeholders on key issues in order to make a great new place in London,” he added.