x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Park life and a good deal more

If the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is to be of lasting benefit to London, then it is housing that will provide the key to its success.

If the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is to be of lasting benefit to London, then it is housing that will provide the key to its success.

Londoners who cherish open spaces and outdoor activities may love the idea of a vast, wild park on their doorstep but what the east London community really needs is a living, breathing town full of homes, among the trees and waterways. The park could potentially provide 8,000 new homes and nearly 4,000 are already under construction.

In August last year, two house builders were picked to develop 870 family homes on part of the park known as Chobham Manor, about a 10 minute drive from Stratford railway station. Chobham will have its own school, Chobham Manor Academy, which opens in September and will take children from the age of 3 to 18, prioritising those who live in the new houses in the park.

In 2011, Qatari Diar and Delancey, a British developer, paid £557 million (Dh3.14 billion) for the right to turn the Olympic athlete's village into rented accommodation for the private sector. The two companies have launched Get Living London, a new company to oversee the renting out of 1,500 homes in what is now known as the East Village. In addition, Triathlon Homes - a joint venture between the housing associations East Thames Group and Southern Housing Group with the urban development and investment company First Base - will bring 1,300 affordable units to the market in a mix of tenures.

Stuart Corbyn, the chairman of Get Living London, says demand for the properties from Get Living London and Triathlon is strong.

"We have just under 3,000 people who are interested in the privately rented homes that become available in month or so. The first tenants will move in September," he says. Most of the homes are two-bedroom flats but there are also some larger three and four-bedroom properties.

"The area is particularly suitable for families, with a great school right on the doorstep and a new health centre. We are already seeing families recognise this," Mr Corbyn says.

Triathlon is further advanced in identifying tenants as its homes will be taken by families and individuals nominated by local councils, including Newham and Hackney. They will have to demonstrate that they are in need of accommodation at less than market-rent levels. Many families will move in this month, in time for their children to start school next month.

Over the summer, Get Living London will continue to market the new flats - and identify which homes will be furnished or left unfurnished. The reopening of the Olympic Park is expected to give the marketing programme a boost as people come back and remember the location and buildings that could be on their doorstep.

Rents for the private rented buildings have not yet been decided, but Mr Corbyn notes there are quite a lot of properties available in the area, which will obviously have a bearing on rents. However, Get Living London will be different to many private landlords as it will link rent reviews to the CPI index of inflation and it will not charge fees up front for leasing flats.

Delancey and Qatari Diar have outlined planning consent to build a further 2,000 homes and some commercial properties in the Olympic Park, so when the first flats are leased they will turn their attention to developing more - although the company has stated its long-term intention is to own properties for rent in various locations around the capital.

Get Living London promises to set new standards for the private rented sector. For a start it will let and manage the apartments itself, rather than through an agent.

"We are also making it clear that we are happy for people to lease from us for longer. We will let tenants sign leases for up to three years, but if they want to leave after six months that is also fine. The product is designed to be very flexible," Mr Corbyn says.

Separately, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is understood to be working up plans for a further 1,200 homes on the Olympic Park site through the private sector.

The London Legacy Development is understood to have hired Deloitte Real Estate to find development partners and institutional investors for the next phase of housing at the 500-acre site.

 

business@thenational.ae