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Agency denies it has endangered Olympic scheme

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The London Development Agency (LDA) has hit back at claims that it has jeopardised the future of the £4 billion Stratford City project in the heart of the London 2012 Olympic regeneration zone.

Last week the agency approved a wide-reaching Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to take control of the massive site in east London - a move that was reported to have 'shocked' and 'amazed' the current project developers, London & Continental Railways (LCR).

In a statement to London's Evening Standard, LCR attacked the CPO, stating that 'it [was] incomprehensible that the LDA should seek to effectively kill off the- regeneration project that we have spent a decade working on.'

However, an LDA spokeswoman subsequently insisted that the move would safeguard the future of the scheme and protect the authorities charged with delivering the games from being held to ransom by private parties.

She said: 'Contrary to the LCR statement, [we are] absolutely committed to supporting both the Olympics and Stratford City regeneration schemes, but the truth is that neither can go ahead without CPO action.

'This is because Stratford City is a landlocked site that requires land owned by others to be bought up to deliver access to their site. This CPO will deliver the access for Stratford City requested and required by LCR and the other private companies involved in their development.'

She added: 'Throughout this process of assembling the land needed for the Games we have made it clear to all the large number of landowners involved that we want to proceed by negotiation and agreement, but no private interests can be allowed to hold the Games to ransom.'

Building work on the scheme, which is being masterplanned by Arup Associates and Fletcher Priest Architects, is due to start in late 2006.

Once complete, Stratford City will provide nearly 4,500 new homes as well as offices, hotels and retail space.

by Richard Waite

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