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Livingstone touts Renzo Piano to masterplan 'squalid' London district

Ken Livingstone has said that he is 'happy to issue CPOs' (Compulsory Purchase Orders) to ensure that 'Renzo Piano, or another famous architect working in Britain,' leads the redevelopment of the St Giles area of central London.

Speaking at a Greater London Authority press conference yesterday, the Mayor of London described St Giles - which extends from Richard Seifert's iconic Centre Point on New Oxford Street to Covent Garden in the south and Berners Street in the west - as 'squalid' and said that the current owners had a duty to transform it.

Three firms own the majority of property in St Giles and, although Livingstone refused to name them, they are believed to include Manchester-based CIS, Portfolio Holdings and Legal & General.

Livingstone said it was their responsibility to ensure that any revamp of the land was not piecemeal and he threatened to issue CPOs as a last resort: 'No Mayor wants to issue CPOs, but I have made it clear to the owners that I would be more than happy to use my CPO powers.'

During the conference Livingstone singled out Italian superstar Renzo Piano when he said that the development would have to be led by a famous architect.

Piano is currently working up plans for Legal & General's £5.8 million St Giles Court development near Centre Point, and any masterplan for the area would inevitably require his input.

Livingstone was adamant that the area, which he described as 'mediocre, dull and uninspiring', should be made pedestrian-friendly and become one of London's most iconic districts.

'We need to do this now, otherwise it will be our grandchildren, not us, that benefit from the development,' he said.

by Max Thompson

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