Legacy company looks to new towns for model for 4,000 affordable homes

The body in charge of the redevelopment after the 2012 Olympic Games is considering becoming a landlord for up to 4,000 social homes planned for the site.

A senior source close to the situation said the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), which is to be transformed into a Development Corporation next year, is currently working up plans to keep ownership of the social homes it builds on the site, rather than selling them off to a housing association.

The model is based on the idea of long-term public ownership pioneered by the post-war new towns, and is very different to the way regeneration has been achieved in the last decade.

The source said the organisation aims to fund the development with institutional money which would be attracted to a long-term investment in a stable, well-managed development. It is likely the OPLC would draft in a housing association on a management contract to run the homes to standards set by the OPLC .

The source said: “It’s a model very much based on the new towns.”

The OPLC is to build 8,000 homes in the Lea Valley in the area surrounding the Olympic Games in the years after 2012. Under the current London plan, half of new homes should be “affordable,” and the body has already said they will primarily be family houses rather than flats, arranged in traditional London street patterns. The source said the body had not yet decided whether it would also keep hold of the freehold ownership for the private homes planned for the site.

The OPLC gained full ownership of the Olympic site last year in a deal with the London Development Agency and the Treasury that wrote off the debt associated with the purchase. The new towns, built from the 1950s onwards, saw the government buy up large tracts of land which were held in perpetuity, eventually realising a large profit for the government 40 years later.

The body will next year gain new town-like powers draw up local plans and make planning decisions when it transforms into a “Mayoral Development Corporation” next year. It yesterday delayed making a recommendation over the future use of the £496m Olympic Stadium after the games, with Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham both bidding to run the arena.