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The Olympic effect leaves Thames Gateway short of development funds

The regeneration needs of East London outside the Olympic Park are in danger of being ignored by central government, according to the boss of the area’s urban development corporation.

In addition, says Peter Andrews, chief executive of the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC), weaknesses in the planning system caused by delayed implementation of government reforms is hampering regeneration efforts.

Last month the government and the London Mayor agreed a £5.8 billion budget to build the Olympic facilities, including £1.7 billion for funding regeneration and infrastructure, the vast majority of which will be spent within the Olympic Park. The LTGDC, which covers an area 20 times the size of the Games area, has so far received only £100 million.

Andrews said, “ This settlement doesn’t mean there is any money outside the park. The area is in desperate need of regeneration – and we’re left scratching around for cash. I’m worried we won’t get sufficient funds to deliver our vision. With the Olympic effect, there’s a danger it will get ignored.”

Andrews estimates that the bill for essential infrastructure in the Lea Valley and Barking Riverside areas covered by the corporation will reach only £1 billion. Only £100 million of this can be met by developer contributions, he contends.

In addition, said Andrews, the workof the corporation is being hampered by difficulties with the new planning sysyem. From September, the unitary development plans of the areas covered by the corporation will expire under the terms of the Government’s 2004 planning reforms, which state that plans should only last three years, after which local authorities must transfer to the new Local Development Framework (LDF) system.

However, the fact that some of the relevant borough’s LDFs are not yet ready undermines the attempts to negotiate better planning applications from developers, claims Andrews. “We’re trying to get the best quality, but if developers come along with inappropriate developments then we’ve got a very weak case,” he said.

From: East London Chief in Olympic Funds Plea, Joey Gardiner, Regeneration and Renewal, 13 April 2007

More at: Regeneration and Renewal

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