Friday, July 23, 2010

East End a Bright Side of Dark London Olympics

The Economist rips into London's plans for the 2012 Olympics, which it has been against from the get-go. But despite the events being what the paper sees as wasteful and expensive, there is some potential for a positive: the regeneration of London's East End.

Its task is to create a place where people will want to live, work and play in a part of town that people have been eager to escape, where jobs have been hard to come by and where welcoming, wide, green spaces are too rare. There are hopeful precedents in the new towns built after the second world war, the garden cities of a century ago and in the private estates built in west London in the 18th and 19th centuries.

There are voices calling for much more social housing in the Olympic Park. It is true that London is short of homes for poor people. But concentrated social housing goes hand in hand with joblessness and enduring poverty: too much of the first will condemn the area to too much of the second and third. To imitate the success of the new towns and garden cities, and to generate jobs and encourage prosperity, the park will need a mix of homes as well as a good swathe of greenery. Get this right, and the games might almost be worthwhile.

Field of dreams
The Economist
July 22, 2010