2012 homes legacy given lukewarm welcome


Nearly 250 new wheelchair-accessible flats and houses should be available for disabled people to rent or buy on the Olympic Park after the London 2012 games, the public body responsible for building the athletes’ village has revealed.

More than a quarter of the 240 homes will be rented social housing, with most of the rest available to buy.

The homes will be converted from the athletes’ village – in Stratford, in the east London borough of Newham – after the games in the summer of 2012.

The number of wheelchair-accessible homes has been obtained by Disability News Service from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).

As well as the 240 wheelchair-accessible properties, all 2,818 homes in the village will meet the Lifetime Homes Standard – key features that should be included in the design of accessible and adaptable housing.

The figures mean the ODA will meet its pledge that ten per cent of all the socially rented housing will be wheelchair-accessible, along with eight per cent of all the “intermediate” housing – homes to buy or rent at levels above those of social rented housing, but below market prices or rents – and those homes sold at “market” rates.

Of the 2,818 new homes available after the games, 675 will be socially rented, of which about 68 will be wheelchair-accessible. There will also be 329 homes put aside for intermediate accommodation, of which about 27 will be wheelchair-accessible.

Of the remaining 1,814 homes – eight per cent of which will be wheelchair-accessible – most will be sold at market rates, with some possibly made available as intermediate housing.

Ellen Clifford, interim director of the user-led Newham Coalition, welcomed the Lifetime Homes commitment, but said they would like to have seen more wheelchair-accessible homes because of the shortage of accessible housing, particularly in Newham itself.

She said adaptations in the borough can take “unacceptably long” because of “bureaucracy and inefficiencies”, leaving disabled people “trapped in their own homes and unsuitable accommodation”.

She said: “What will be key will be the systems for allocating and advertising the accessible homes.”

Clifford said the new wheelchair-accessible homes could provide opportunities “to extend choice and control and non-residential options to disabled people, and we will be calling on the local authority for a planned approach in co-production with disabled people to maximise the opportunity”.

Inclusion London said it would have liked at least ten per cent of all the new housing to be wheelchair-accessible, as laid out in the London Plan.

Anne Kane, Inclusion London’s policy manager, said the housing benefit cuts announced by the coalition government would “price housing out of the reach of many lower-income people, many of whom will be disabled people”, so the provision of affordable housing for disabled people was an “absolutely key” issue.

And Peter Lainson, chair of the Stratford City Consultative Access Group, said he hoped there was enough “focused marketing” to ensure the market housing was bought by wheelchair-users and would not have to be sold on the “open market” to non-disabled people.

5 November 2010