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Olympics competition threat to Lea Valley masterplans

The London Development Agency's decision to launch a design competition for an Olympics site in east London is threatening two existing masterplans for the Lea Valley.

The project brief is expected to undermine plans by London-based Patel Taylor Architects and the Barcelona Olympics masterplanner MBMA for separate plots in the proposed area.

The LDA, part of the Greater London Authority, decided to push ahead with a competition this week even though the government has yet to decide whether to bid for the games. As a result, it wants the scheme to have a 'twin approach', with one set of designs encompassing an Olympic Village and another focusing purely on the economic and social regeneration of the 1,300ha site.

There are, however, widespread rumours that the Cabinet will approve an Olympic bid early next month. A decision has been delayed due to the war in Iraq.

Patel Taylor partner Pankaj Patel described the LDA's decision as 'very surprising', insisting the whole of the Lea Valley regeneration agenda is a 'bloody muddle'.

'What will happen to the MBMA scheme and our own if the competition-winning designs get the go-ahead?' he said. 'To attempt to establish a new vision before a bid is submitted is daft.'

Leaside Regeneration development director Phil Smith, who commissioned the two original plans, said the LDA had not warned him about the competition, and insisted the two existing plans would 'fail to work within the new scheme'.

But the LDA said the new competition does not necessarily sound the death knell for the two projects. 'We will try to encourage the winner to encompass them into their schemes, ' a spokesman said.

For the competition brief go to www. ojec. com

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