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Potters Fields: Mayor still preparing compulsory purchase

Ken Livingstone has reiterated his threat to seek a compulsory purchase order on Southwark's land at Potters Fields if a deal can't be done to end the stand-off between the council and Berkeley Homes.

Berkeley Homes scheme for Potters Fields
Berkeley Homes scheme for Potters Fields
Potters Fields
The derelict coach park in November 2007. Southwark's land is in the foreground; Berkeley owns the section behind the hoardings

In a written answer to a question tabled by Lambeth & Southwark London Assembly member Val Shawcross, the Mayor renewed the threat he made last year to intervene in the ongoing dispute between Southwark Council and Berkeley Homes about the future of the derelict former coach park next to Tower Bridge.

"Berkeley Homes has made a start on the construction of the permitted scheme on the part of the Potters Fields site that it owns," says the Mayor.

"This includes the affordable housing element of the scheme, which consists of 114 homes. Southwark Council, which owns the rest of the site, continues to hold up regeneration of this highly significant and strategic site by continuing to prevent full implementation of the consented Berkeley Homes scheme, despite the planning inspector's fulsome support in his report following the planning inquiry.

"The council – despite refusing to sell the site to Berkeley Homes – has failed to produce an alternative proposal to regenerate the site, which remains vacant and derelict as a result.

"The LDA has therefore begun preparing for compulsory purchase proceedings in order to bring this impasse to an end and to secure the regeneration benefits that the approved scheme will bring to the area and London as a whole.

"I remain willing, however, to talk to the parties to try to achieve a negotiated outcome to the advantage of us all."

Southwark Council leader Nick Stanton has branded the Mayor's latest CPO threat "unreasonable".

"Southwark's priorities for Potters Fields have always been clear," says the council leader.

"We want to see affordable homes and an iconic cultural attraction that will complement the world-class venues on the south bank.

"The mayor's repeated threats to CPO Southwark Council's land are unreasonable. A CPO would result in a lengthy legal battle that could cost taxpayers millions of pounds.

"We believe a solution will be found through negotiation."

Val Shawcross welcomed the Mayor's response to her question: "I'm glad to hear that Ken is willing to talk to the all parties and try to reach a reach a mutually advantageous solution. The current stand-off between Southwark Council and Berkeley Homes is of no benefit to anyone except the lawyers.

"I'm no great fan of the Berkeley Homes towers design – but the site cannot remain vacant indefinitely and this row has been going on for far too long. If Southwark Council have an alternative proposal for the site they need to bring it forward right away."

Boundary dispute and St Olave's

Meanwhile it emerged last month that Berkeley Homes and Southwark Council are locked in a separate legal dispute about the precise boundaries of the land owned by each organisation.

The future of the former St Olave's School – which Berkeley wants to turn into a boutique hotel – will be the subject of a public inquiry.

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