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LDA is overstretched by Olympics, says Thames Gateway boss

The head of a major Thames Gateway regeneration group has claimed the London Development Agency (LDA) is overstretched due to the 2012 Olympics effectively stopping redevelopment elsewhere in the capital.

Leaside Regeneration's chief executive Paul Brickell made the claim while pointing out that litle work has been done on the regeneration of the Poplar Riverside site in east London for nearly five years.

'The LDA tried to gain a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the site and we commissioned Penoyre and Prasad Architects to do a masterplan, as we were working alongside them at the time,' said Brickell.

'However, the LDA decided to go it alone and five years later the CPO has still not been gained, but you would have to ask them why that is.

'The LDA does seem to be overstretched because of its Olympics commitments, and so I would prefer to see the Unitary Development Corporation (UDC) take over.'

According to Brickell, a private consortium is now thinking of bidding for the site, which would negate the need for the LDA to spend public money on a CPO.

But Brickell also questioned whether the LDA had the community's best interests at heart.

'Tower Hamlets Council wants to retain residents and create a mixed environment for families and younger people, and the UDC is more likely to deal in creating that mix,' he said.

'But the LDA's plan is quite different - creating a grittier mix of industrial and residential uses, which the GLA is championing.

'If family units are to live there then they are the least suitable set to sit alongside any industrial use for the site - a lot of people are questioning the LDA's direction,' he added.

by Richard Vaughan

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