It's over a year since the London 2012 Olympic Games came to a close but it is still relatively unclear what's in store for the infrastructure it left behind. Prior to the celebrations, there was unbridled optimism that the area would see property prices skyrocket and regeneration would abound. However, post-Olympic haze, the reality is currently not living up to expectations. Nevertheless, mayor Boris Johnson isn't prepared to let the legacy of the games die and the government this summer laid down its plans for the future of the capital - no doubt easing the minds of property investors.
So what can the Olympic Park area and Stratford expect in the future? At the former, the area will be transformed into a series of neighbourhoods set around the new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Each of these will contain much-needed homes, places to work and community facilities, including schools, health centres, shops and cafes. They will sit alongside the new commercial centre in Stratford, making for a vibrant locality and creating plenty of opportunities. Meanwhile, Olympic sites, such as the stadium itself will be transformed.
Here are just a few things investors should look out for in the Olympic area in the coming years.
The East Village will open this autumn to its first residents and just over 700 of the expected 2,800 homes have already been built. Boris Johnson has made these properties available via the First Steps website and people will be able to enjoy below market rent, shared ownership options and the choice of shared equity. Social tenants will also have access to 68 properties. Coinciding with this, a new school - Chobham Academy - has been opened at the East Village, as well as an advanced medical clinic.
Chobham Manor will be one of the first neighbourhoods to open at the Olympic Park, with around 800 new homes. Residents should begin to move in during early 2015 and four more communities will also be created around the area.
For businesses, iCity has signed a long lease for the Press and Broadcast Centre, offering 91,000 square metres of space and creating more than 4,500 jobs by 2019. BT sport has already taken studio space in the building and Loughborough University and Hackney Community College will follow suit with on-site occupation. The area will be ideal for hotel investors and student accommodation developers, catering for the business travel community and student population.
Meanwhile, infrastructure improvements to key sites have helped to support the regeneration of satellite areas, such as Westfield Stratford, which attracted nearly 50 million visitors in its first year of opening. Some 350 homes and 370,000 square metres of workspace will also be created in The International Quarter (TIQ), while the Strand East neighbourhood will see 1,200 new homes and 60,000 square metres of workspace.
Boris Johnson and London & Partners are now working with Growth Borough and the private sector to create an investment portfolio for East London.
West Ham United Football Club have been named as the anchor tenants for the Olympic Stadium from 2016 onwards, no doubt driving visitors to the area. Meanwhile, the Aquatics Centre will be opened to local people and athletes from Spring 2014. The Copper Box has already re-opened as a sporting centre for basketball, boxing and other events. It is expected it could attract around 400,000 visitors each year, making it a prime spot for commercial investors.
Other sites are set to re-open in a variation of their existing form, with the Lee Valley VeloPark being used as one-mile road cycle circuit and a mountain bike trail, in addition to a 6,000-seat Velodrome. Eton Manor Sports Complex will become the Lee Valley Tennis and Hockey Centre in spring 2014.
Regeneration of the Olympic Park area and Stratford will be supported by the government commitment to leverage the games to maximise trade and investment. The delivery of the event proved the UK is capable of large-scale projects, making it more attractive for investors. This is a feat not likely to be soon forgotten and it is undeniable that it will continue to act as a testament to British capabilities among the international community. It will also help to create new neighbourhoods and opportunities in the capital, ensuring growth is sustainable over the long-term.
- Thursday 02 January 2014