Control row blows up over Stratford

The £4 billion Stratford City regeneration project is in jeopardy after the London Development Agency (LDA) authorised a compulsory purchase order (CPO) covering the site.

The LDA board approved the CPO last week, although it may have to go to a public inquiry if the majority of the 274 local businesses object to the order.

The move came after talks between mayor Ken Livingstone, deputy prime minister John Prescott and culture secretary Tessa Jowell broke down last Thursday. Their meeting aimed to resolve the clash between London and Continental Railways (LCR) and the LDA over who controls the project.

LCR said that the regeneration scheme, on which it has been working for a decade, will create up to 5,000 homes and 30,000 jobs. It also forms part of the 2012 Olympic Games proposals.

A statement released by LCR expressed surprised at the move. "Up to now the planning process for Stratford City has progressed well and it is perplexing that such a cornerstone of the Olympic legacy could be placed in such potential jeopardy. Despite the proposed action by the LDA, LCR and its partners remain committed to assisting the delivery of a successful games and of creating benefits for the people of east London once the games have ended," it stated.

The LDA insisted that the order should not have been a shock. A spokesman for the agency said: "It has always been clear that the CPO process will happen. It has been on the cards for months."

In addition, the LDA argued, the Stratford City regeneration project could not go ahead before a CPO had been issued. "Stratford City and the Olympic Park are landlocked sites, therefore we need CPO action to make both of them work," explained the spokesman."

Work on the site was expected to begin in 2006 and last 20 years. Part of the site is identified for some of the Olympic Village.

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