“Landmark shopping centre, advanced health centre, free schooling in new purpose built facility and plenty of green spaces for the children to run around.”
Was this written in the 1950s or the 2010’s? Is the fate of these two scenes…
… a wrecking ball or dynamite end as below?
Are we assuming once again that people like living on top of each other? Yet again, are they trying to turn the London property mantra of… “West is Best and East is Least” into “East is a Feast and West is Yest…erday”? Is the idea of creating a vibrant and horizontally based community just glossy marketing spin? I have already mentioned the on-site welfare facilities and epic shopping and leisure facilities, but we now also have reports of indigenous ethnic relocations from Newham to Stoke on Trent – well it all sounds a bit familiar to me, except previously the migrants could get off the West Coast Mainline at the little village of Milton Keynes …
Add in – rocketing land values, lack of available housing, areas of incomparable deprivation, above average levels of unemployment, social housing stretched to breaking point and here we are getting a glimpse of post Olympic London exactly 64 years apart, with the same background issues but conveniently with very few of those original residents still alive to recount their tales – is there any other raison d’etre behind the decision to build up – what do you think?
What legacies of past Olympics can we draw from?
After the fiasco of the Atlanta games in 1996, where athletes themselves questioned whether they were there “…to compete or commute” after two hour bus rides to venues – distance mattered. Sydney solved the problem by building the athletes village requirement both harbour side in creating attractive premium priced apartments near the old city abattoir, which was demolished to make way for the Olympic site. They also used demountable chalets that your average Australian could buy flat packed afterwards, stick them in the back of their UHT (Australian term for a car-based pick up truck) and erect in their garden commonly called the “outback” – they really did think about the economics and decided against the gamble of major development risk.
Best not delve too far into the last Olympics in Athens in 2004, and the economic melange that exists today – put simply they couldn’t afford to put the show on, and I am surprised that most commentators have not yet seized on the staging of the XXVIII Olympiad as a component part of their current economic problems.
When you compare this with the dazzling investment and reported corruption that surrounded the Beijing Games in 2008, perhaps that was more of an event for the cameras and politicians, as certainly the legacy benefits of the athlete’s village were confined to the affluent few, rather then the communist many.
It is interesting to note that in an era where the mention of development risk sends bankers running away to hide in the nearest City bar, that the organisation that has bought the Athletes Village (now renamed the East Village and saddled with the postcode from EastEnders), is a Middle Eastern sovereign investment house, which collects trophy buildings and businesses more as a hobby.
As Wellcome Trust’s not for profit bid came second, I am not really sure that this is a philanthropic venture. When you add the investment nous of conjoining the Qataris with a member of the Ritblat dynasty in the form of Jamie and his financially astute Delancey, I leave it to you to decide whether this is a cash cow for the investors or a vibrant community for those persuaded to join the post Olympic dream…again?