Scramble for social homes in East Village, Stratford

Mark Kent, Head of Operations at Triathlon Homes.

Mark Kent, Head of Operations at Triathlon Homes. - Credit: Archant

Suddenly, everybody wants to be an EastEnder. Bidding has started to make one of the new homes in the Olympic Park your own in 2013 - and thousands have jumped at the opportunity to live in E20.

Exterior at East Village.

Exterior at East Village. - Credit: Archant

Mark Kent, head of operations at Triathlon Homes - joint East Village housing providers with Qatari Diar Delancey - is not surprised by the level of interest.

Nero House in East Village.

Nero House in East Village. - Credit: Archant

He said: “I think the Olympic legacy gets people excited on its own. But the incredible amount of investment that has been put into the Stratford area is unrivalled.

“There’s been so much effort put into it. There’s just no other place like it in London if you have decided to live somewhere modern and well-connected.”

Applications opened on January 30 for social rented homes in East Village, formerly the Athlete’s Village, and competition looks fierce with around 17,000 people registering their interest on the development’s website.

More than a third of these will be three bedrooms or more and, of these, 1,379 will be available as affordable housing either through social renting, intermediate rent (discounted), or shared ownership (part buy/part rent).

The accommodation is arranged into 11 plots, each comprising about six or seven perimeter blocks of eight to 12 storeys around central courtyards.

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Mark said: “It’s been a dream to work on. Before we worried about whether people were interested or not, the new builds and the quality of the design held a lot of interest for us.

“I always say to people that when you walk round a new build, look at the planting around it because if that’s good, then it’ll be a good quality building because that’s normally the first thing to fall apart.”

East Village has been on the cards since 2002 as part of the Stratford City masterplan. In that version, the development would have taken around a decade to build - mostly due to the unfavourable economic climate - but winning the Olympic bid in July 2005 has accelerated the build, taking only three years to complete in the end.

But many long-time Stratford residents of E15 are concerned that the new Olympic Park development, separated by a postcode border, will create an ‘us and them’ attitude.

But Mark thinks that once the through roads are accessible again, the area won’t feel as cut off from the rest of east London.

He points to the reopening of the old Carpenters Road that has been shut off during the construction of the Olympic Park as integral to connecting the Park to other parts of Stratford and the surrounding area.

Doubts have also surfaced surrounding the less-than-organic nature of regeneration creating an artifical community that doesn’t reflect the diversity of other parts of east London.

But Mark thinks the prevention lies in the unique way housing will be allocated to those who register an interest.

The East London Housing Partnership are organising the protocol whereby referrals are prioritised based on the policy of the council you are applying from to create a more mixed community, with as little difference as possible between new builds allocated for social housing and those put aside for young professionals or families.

Mark said: “It needs to be for everyone. We’ve been working with Mayor of London schemes which is all about people moving across the city to live.

“We are going to have people from north London and south London living there. Having a mixed community is essential, it’s completely natural.

“Where we do have these pockets of similar people all living in one place, it just doesn’t work because it doesn’t create a vibrant community.”