Audit office gives approval to Millennium Dome's regeneration deal

The National Audit Office (NAO) has given its approval to a regeneration deal for the Millennium Dome and surrounding areas between English Partnerships and Meridian Delta Ltd and the Anschutz Entertainment Group, saying that English Partnerships had "learnt lessons from the first sale process".

Under the terms of the deal, which has taken since 2001 when Meridian Delta Ltd became preferred bidder, planning consent has been given for 190 acres of the Greenwich peninsula including:
  • a mixed use district of over 10,000 dwellings including business and retail space as well as transport and highway infrastructure;
  • retention and use of the Dome for mixed use including a 26,000 maximum capacity arena and creation of Dome Waterfront comprising various uses such as entertainment, assembly and leisure; and
  • associated works including work on the river wall, rebuilding of the Greenwich Pavilion, a greywater treatment plant, electricity sub-station and other utilities.

    The deal also realises the Government's objectives to realise receipts to the taxpayer - estimated returns to the public sector are over £550 million in cash terms over the lifetime of the deal - and to ensure the development of the Dome and the surrounding area.

    Commenting on the deal, Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO said: "In difficult circumstances following the failure of the first competition, English Partnerships and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have worked hard to get a deal. There are risks still to be managed but local residents, and indeed the taxpayer, stand to benefit from it."

    Sir John also said that including extra land made the deal far more suited to long term development than the original offer of only the Dome and the 68 acres beneath and next to it.

    Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott said: "I look forward to the first new homes from this deal being built next year. And I welcome the start of works this month for constructing the arena in the Dome, which will open in 2007. Of course, the deal still has to be delivered, but the NAO conclude there is a contractual basis for the long-term delivery of substantial benefits for Greenwich, London and the Thames Gateway."

    By David Hopkins

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