New research shows the economic legacy on Stratford, ten years after the London Olympics opening ceremony, which could provide lessons for future regeneration across the country.
The Evaluate|Locate Economic Vitality Index (EVI) shows that the former Olympic Park has outpaced growth across the whole country by more than two times. Stratford’s E15 postcode district has seen its headline EVI score grow by +24.3% between July 2012 and July 2022. This compares to median growth across the whole United Kingdom of 10.6% on the same metric over the last decade post-Olympics.
Stratford has also outpaced Greater London. While the area in the immediate vicinity of the former Olympic Park has witnessed a profound acceleration after the games, this has not spread to the entirety of the capital. Greater London’s equivalent EVI score has grown by only +9.0% between July 2012 and July 2022, putting the rest of the capital behind the Olympic epicentre and behind the equivalent benchmark for the whole country.
Working from postcode granularity upwards, Evaluate|Locate rates every location across the UK on the basis of 96 economic metrics which are grouped around business density; earnings; employment levels; average residential values; and population movements. These metrics are localised and ‘nowcast’ right up to the present month.
In terms of individual indicators, Stratford’s headline economic acceleration has been driven by a doubling in local businesses (105% growth in local active businesses since July 2012), population growth three times the UK average (+16.4% population growth vs. +5.6% for the UK since July 2012), local jobs up 40.2% since July 2012 (vs. 17.1% for the UK) and unemployment down by six points. Today only 4.6% of Stratford’s E15 workforce are looking for work, compared to a worrying 11% of local residents in the workforce in need of a job in 2012 on Olympic opening night.
Greater London has also seen a broader economic improvement over the last decade. However this has not necessarily outpaced the rest of the UK in the way that may be stereotypically understood about London.
Unemployment across the capital has halved over the last decade, from 8.8% in July 2012 to 4.4% this month. However this leaves unemployment in London higher than the current 3.5% UK benchmark. Meanwhile earnings across Greater London have risen by 18.9% since July 2012 – slower than both the rate of earnings growth across the UK ( up 25.5% in the last decade) and behind inflation (with CPI up 27.1%).
Adam Kirby, Head of Data & Insights at Evaluate|Locate, comments: “It turns out levelling up one postcode is possible, with the best part of ten billion pounds and ten years. Yet that hasn’t stretched to all of the capital’s nine million Londoners and hugely varied business community. It’s also worth remembering that not all Stratford residents will have benefited from a doubling in local property prices.
“Stratford’s legacy raises important questions for the next decade. Levelling up Sheffield and Wolverhampton might not be the same story without the same budget and spectacle, and might have different needs in any case. It’s clear that in such a new economic environment, and a very different global mood, the private sector and local government will need to be at least as important as national initiatives in providing local spectacles, and the economic fireworks of the 2020s.
“Ten years on from the fireworks, the economic embers are still glowing white hot. But that bright light still looks small compared to the scale of the global gaze on Stratford a decade ago – and the much broader hopes kindled for a new national optimism.
“Finally, perhaps the most important lesson is this will take time. Tomorrow’s economic winners will be crowned after a marathon, not a sprint.”