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Unpacking the complex exclusivity of new workspaces in London’s Olympic Park

Davis, Juliet ORCID: 2023. Unpacking the complex exclusivity of new workspaces in London’s Olympic Park. Presented at: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 29 August – 1 September 2023.

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This paper begins by describing the Here East development in London’s Olympic Park in terms of workspace designs, rents, and occupants as a high-end employment area. It goes to explain this topography as the outcome of a regeneration approach pursued through planning and design over ten years to cultivate so-called ‘high-value’ economic land uses on the Park. Tracking this back through various iterations of planning policies and masterplans, it reaches the highly contested compulsory purchase order (CPO) process required to assemble the land needed for the Games in 2004-2007. This land had accommodated industry since the Middle Ages and had formed part of an extensive industrial belt to London in the 19th and 20th centuries. The CPO led to the direct, state-led displacement (Marcuse, 1984) of 284 small to medium scale enterprises (Raco and Street, 2009; Davies, Davies and Rapp, 2017; Davis and Bernstock, forthcoming) that had benefited from low value land and workspaces, rooted in east London’s multicultural and working class communities. Creating the justification for it were a range of official evaluations (economic, historic and aesthetic) of the businesses and their environments, and; b) assumptions about their potentials in terms of regeneration. Displacement of low value uses, it was claimed, was a pre-requisite for regeneration. The analysis serves to reveal the planning/ development of higher value economic uses as inherently exclusionary as well as poorly equipped to sensitively address the complex needs, mixed qualities and local values of urban industrial areas such as the Lower Lea Valley.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2024 10:45

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