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and says no to Alsop's Mermaid Theatre scheme

Ken Livingstone has blocked Alsop Architects' £55 million plans to redevelop the Mermaid Theatre in Blackfriars.

The London mayor told the Corporation of London - which gave the mixed-use scheme planning consent three weeks ago (AJ 27.3.03) - it must 'direct refusal' because the Section 106 agreement is insufficient compensation 'for the loss of a theatre'.

The mayor demanded developer Blackfriars raise its contribution to the capital's theatre industry above the proposed £6 million. In addition, Livingstone said there were 'outstanding transport problems'with the Puddle Dock project.However, he said Alsop's designs 'have many merits', and added he would be happy to give the scheme the go ahead if his concerns were allayed.

The Save London's Theatres group - which has been campaigning to safeguard the Mermaid - said 'theatre lovers' were delighted with the mayor's decision. 'We are very pleased that Ken has listened to many of our worries and made our points for us, ' SLT chair John Levett said. 'But this is only a battle won, not the whole war.'

Alsop said he was 'largely unconcerned' about the ruling. 'It is Ken being a good politician and very diligent, ' he said. 'He wants to make sure the right deal has been done and all the transport links are tied up. I'm sure the problems will be resolved.'

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