Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Olympic Legacy For Housing

Although I was born in London, I've lived elsewhere for twice as much time as I have in that city - leaving it as I did shortly before my 19th birthday. But it remains much more "my" city than either Manchester or Liverpool, the two great Northern cities where I've worked for the best part of 30 years. So it's been especially interesting to follow the Olympics and observe what it's been doing for the area.

Just to prove I was there!
Over this last weekend I was one of the lucky ones in the great ticket lottery with both a handball Bronze medal match to witness and a closing ceremony ticket. As a result I got a chance to see not just a partying London, but also the associated regeneration close up.

Twitter seems pretty divided over the artistic merits of the Spice Girl reunion and the closing ceremony doesn't seem to have ignited a swell of national pride in the same way as the Danny Boyle's opening ceremony did. More to the point for the purposes of this blog, much the same can be discerned in the comments about the economic and social benefits of the physical regeneration.

The naysayers' arguments about benefit for local communities being small, about prices being too high, about flats being prioritised over family houses don't stand up for me. It will bring new homes for many and made a dramatic change from the Hackney Marshes I remember. Seeing it first hand I think it is a powerful reminder of the transformational power of Government investment.

The news agenda is rightfully concerned about capitalising on the sporting and health impact of the games at the moment, but in the long term the regeneration of our country needs reflection, analysis and action too. Surely it's not too much to hope that amongst the MPs who went to the games were some who recognise the housing, health, employment and economic benefits that regeneration brings to communities and restores the word to the lexicon of policy discourse. 

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