Four bordering authorities voice concerns over OPLC’s focus on housing for the park
Plans for the post-2012 redevelopment of the Olympic park have been thrown into doubt after the four local authorities bordering it raised significant objections.
According to documents seen by Building, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest councils have registered significant concerns over the 6,800-home planning application submitted by the Olympic Park Legacy Company last October that go to the heart of the proposals.
Tower Hamlets has gone as far as to register a “holding objection” to the plans unless major changes are made.
The OPLC, which brought in urban planning expert Andrew Altman as chief executive to oversee the creation of the so-called Legacy Communities Scheme (LCS), is committed to having planning approval for the scheme in place before the Games begin in July.
Building understands it is now seeking urgently to reassure the boroughs and is considering possible amendments in order to meet this deadline.
In a letter to the ODA’s planning decisions team in November, seen by Building, Newham’s planning director Clive Dutton said its concerns “go to the heart of the driving principles of the LCS”.
Newham and the other councils are particularly concerned about the LCS’s focus on housing, and argue that it fails to set out a coherent vision including the permanent venues and parkland.
Dutton’s letter said: “The LCS as proposed is … a large housing estate divided into individual development plots to take to the market in real estate terms. It does not seem to grasp the significant opportunities provided by the Olympics.”
A letter from Hackney council assistant director Graham Loveland to the ODA, said: “It is a value-driven approach to planning and development which results in a piecemeal plan that brings forward a series of developer friendly housing zones.
“We cannot emphasise enough that … housing as the main driver is unlikely to make this place work.”
The objection of the boroughs is especially significant because council representatives make up four of the 11-strong committee that decides the application.
A spokesman for the OPLC said it will be submitting further material to the planning authority in the New Year to clarify and amend certain areas of the application. He said: “We have put forward a bold vision for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with family housing at its core. These five neighbourhoods will stitch together the surrounding communities of a formerly isolated area through new homes, schools, shops, parks, infrastructure and jobs. We welcome comments as part of the consultation process and continue to work with stakeholders on key issues in order to make a great new place in London.”