Potters Field faces purchase order risk

London mayor Ken Livingstone has threatened to issue his first compulsory purchase order (CPO) on council-owned land near Tower Bridge within the month.

At the Labour Party conference, Livingstone insisted that he would use his powers if the London Borough of Southwark fails to co-operate over the £200 million Potters Field riverside scheme.

The Berkeley Homes project went to public inquiry three years ago (Planning, 30 April 2004, p3) and was approved after deputy prime minister John Prescott overruled council concerns.

The borough continues to resist plans for eight residential towers due to the low level of affordable housing, the buildings' height and community opposition.

Berkeley owns one-third of the site. It has begun work on three towers that are due for completion in autumn 2009. But managing director Tony Pidgley is keen to reach agreement with the council on the rest of the site.

He told Planning: "We would like to see a comprehensive scheme for the whole site but we do not know what Southwark wants." The CPO issue is between the mayor and Southwark, he added.

Council leader Nick Stanton said the borough must ensure that the completed scheme is right for the site. "If that takes time, it is better than scarring the site with an insensitive development put up to benefit developers and pacify political impatience," he argued.

A spokeswoman for the mayor said: "The CPO is not a route we will take willy-nilly. It is a call to action."

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