A war of words has broken out between the two rival consortia vying to develop a large brownfield site in central Croydon.
Stanhope, the developer behind proposals by Foster and Partners and CZWG for the 'Croydon Gateway', has reacted with fury to news that an alternative scheme by Michael Aukett Architects has secured planning permission.
The firm's chief executive has launched a savage attack on the Michael Aukett project, insisting it is financially unviable and will fail to regenerate the area.
The two projects are currently neck-and-neck in the battle for the 5-hectare site.
While Michael Aukett and its backer Arrowcroft have planning permission, Stanhope owns almost all the land. If the Michael Aukett proposal goes ahead it will require a raft of compulsory purchase orders for the property.
But Stanhope is determined that its own project - which is currently awaiting the outcome of a planning inquiry - should win the tussle and has vowed to take any CPOs to court.
Croydon Council gave the Michael Aukett scheme its backing because it will provide the area with a 12,500-capacity arena, an amenity the Stanhope consortium claims is unviable.
Stanhope chief executive David Camp told the AJ that Michael Aukett's scheme 'should not be allowed'. He said: 'As the majority site owners, we have raised a number of valid issues about the viability of the arena scheme and its ability to regenerate the surrounding area.
'It is dependent on CPOs that will inevitably delay any project other than ours for many more years. We have not bought the land simply for it to be taken away from us.We have taken legal advice and it seems we have a strong defence against any CPOs.
It is a real shame we have reached this very difficult impasse.'
A spokesperson for the Arrowcroft and Michael Aukett consortium dismissed Stanhope's criticism. 'There is no doubt the arena is viable and the scheme should go ahead.We are determined to push ahead with the compulsory purchase orders and get our project started.
'We have the support of the business community, the local population and the council. Our project received only 24 planning objections. This is almost nothing for a scheme of this size.'