Panel discussion - Wednesday 19 April 2023, 6-8.30pm
Last week Pollard Thomas Edwards asked Who wants to live in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park? in a public debate at its Diespeker Wharf studios. The two-hour session centred on the new residential neighbourhoods surrounding the Olympic Park. Following on from a recent debate on London’s residential towers, PTE once again gathered an expert panel and an experienced chair - Dave Hill, author of Olympic Park: When Britain Built Something Big – to tackle a range of topics and inviting audience questions and comments.
Each speaker had deep connections to the Olympic Park. Up first, Vivienne Ramsey, the former Head of Development Control, ODA and former Director of Planning, LLDC asked whether the park’s residential neighbourhoods have turned out the way it was hoped they would.
Next, Rosanna Lawes, the LLDC’s Executive Director of Development asked, ‘Why haven’t more homes been built on the park and why aren’t more of them more affordable?’ before PTE’s senior advisor Andrew Beharrell explored the challenges designing and developing homes post-Games.
James Halsall, an LLDC senior design manager pondered the ‘happiness’ of residents in Chobham Manor, the first of the Olympic Park’s residential neighbourhoods, while Mekor Newman of engagement specialist Newman Francis asked do established communities close to the Olympic Park feel its arrival has improved their lives?
There was a mix of views. In Chobham Manor we heard how ‘kids run to the rain gardens without parents around. Kids feel safe enough to do that - and the parents do too’. We learned that there will be 55,000 people living in and around the park by 2036, and by 2025, 40,000 jobs located there. In Hackney Wick we heard how, on the one hand, mid-rise height limits and industrial heritage conservation have helped create a harmonious streetscape – and damp down land values. But on the other, developers are skimping on affordable homes. And we heard about how longstanding communities of the Carpenter Estate, excited about the Olympics coming, were ‘destroyed by the decant’ and ‘forgotten about.’
Someone in the audience, ‘east London born and bred’ voiced a similar concern, stating redevelopment is never for existing communities. ‘It’s for business, creatives, visitors. Not us.’
But as one resident in our POE of New Garden Quarter (37 per cent affordable homes) revealed of the Chobham Manor neighbourhood scheme, ‘You’ve got space, you’ve got greenery, you’ve got light… I think it’s an amazing place to live.’
‘Regeneration’ said another audience member, drawing the debate to a close, ‘is a continuum rather than an event.’
- Dave Hill, Founder, On London (chair)
- Vivienne Ramsey, former Head of Development Control, ODA and former Director of Planning, LLDC
- Rosanna Lawes, Executive Director of Development, LLDC
- Andrew Beharrell, Senior Advisor, Pollard Thomas Edwards
- James Halsall, Senior Design Manager, LLDC
- Mekor Newman, Director, NewmanFrancis