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Affordable Olympic homes plan slashed, with critics predicting the park could become "enclave for the rich"

PUBLISHED: 14:35 12 February 2014 | UPDATED: 20:16 12 February 2014

East Wick and Sweetwater neighbourhoods on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

East Wick and Sweetwater neighbourhoods on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

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Plans to build "affordable housing" on the 2012 Olympic Games site have been slashed, with critics predicting the area could become a "clone of Kensington" and an "enclave for the rich".

Aerial shot over Queen Elizabeth Park. Picture by Anthony Charlton for LLDC.Aerial shot over Queen Elizabeth Park. Picture by Anthony Charlton for LLDC.

Plans to build “affordable housing” on the 2012 Olympic Games site have been slashed, with critics predicting the area could become a “clone of Kensington” and an “enclave for the rich”.

The revelations will come as a hammer blow to scores of working-class locals who had pinned their hopes on bagging a subsidised home in East London after the London 2012 extravaganza, which cost British taxpayers a whopping £9billion.

Last month councillors on Hackney Council’s planning sub-committee heard from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) at a special pre-application meeting to find out about its amended plans for East Wick in the Hackney part of the park.

If the LLDC remove a condition attached by the now defunct Olympic Delivery Authority’s planning committee, the target proportion of affordable housing in East Wick will drop from 38 per cent to 29 per cent - effectively reducing the affordable units from 336 to 254.

The sub-committee which worked hard to secure the condition has agreed to a site visit to see just how much housing will be lost in the park.

Overall, plans for social housing on the publicly-funded site have dropped from 50 per cent to just 28 per cent on some new developments.

London mayor Boris Johnson warned last week that hopes for discounted accommodation in the current economic climate amounted to “windy aspirations”.

He added fewer homes would be built overall and a smaller than promised percentage of those would be affordable - in part because space for 1,000 new properties is being given over to a cultural “hub” known as “Olympicopolis”.

Campaigners slammed the plans as proof the taxpayer funded Olympic legacy was a farce, and London Assembly member for north east London, Jennette Arnold, has voiced concerns the promise to build so much affordable housing could be broken.

“The last thing we want to see is families on modest incomes priced out of the Olympic Park and for it to become an enclave of the rich,” she said.

Lower Clapton resident Charlie Charman of Olympics watchdog Games Monitor said: “There is no intention of letting locals people in there – all they want is a clone of Kensington.

“Clearly the aim is to cut down the amount of affordable housing and increase the amount of private rented accommodation.

“I expect whole chunks of the homes at new neighbourhoods such as East Wick and Sweetwater will be bought off by private developers such as Qatari Diar did at the athletes village (East Village).

“The LLDC seem to like this arrangement where they keep the properties as permanent private rented accommodation rather than offering social housing like most of us thought would happen originally.

“Or we thought developers would build properties and then sell them off so cash would come back to pay off the lottery. That is also clearly not going to happen now.”

Critics have also slammed the LLDC for failing to take into account the loss of 1,000 genuinely affordable housing units at Clays Lane and Park Village - two council estates in Newham which were demolished to make way for London 2012.

A spokesman for the LLDC said they were “totally committed to providing new homes on and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park”.

“We expect to build up to 1,400 new homes per year and our site-wide target remains for more than a third, 35 per cent, to be affordable homes.”

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