Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 14:37 UK

'Threat to homes' as DLR on hold

Docklands Light Railway
The DLR extension is part of the Barking Riverside regeneration project

Thousands of homes may not be built after long-term plans to extend the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) were postponed, an east London council said.

Mayor Boris Johnson has delayed a public inquiry into the 497m DLR extension to Dagenham while Westminster assesses the state of its finances.

Barking and Dagenham Council said the move jeopardised 9,500 new homes.

Cllr Charles Fairbrass said it was a bitter blow but a spokesman for the mayor said the delay was unavoidable.

"Many regeneration projects will also fall by the wayside as a result of the decision," Mr Fairbrass said of the move.

The DLR extension would provide new transport links for residents of Beckton, Barking Riverside and Dagenham Dock.

'Responsible attitude'

Backed by previous mayor Ken Livingstone, 5m has already been spent in its development as part of the Barking Riverside project to regenerate the area and create thousands of jobs.

But the extension cannot go ahead until the public inquiry takes place. That has been postponed by Mr Johnson.

The mayor's spokesman said "given the current economic situation", it would be postponed "until the government clarifies whether they will be able to provide the necessary financial support".

He added that given the overall economic slowdown, no further time frame is expected from the Department for Transport - a key funding partner - before 2009.

I am devastated that the excellent progress being made on economic regeneration in east London is now in jeopardy
Barking and Dagenham Council leader Charles Fairbrass

"The mayor believes asking for this clarification before further cash is spent on a public inquiry is exactly the responsible attitude to taxpayers' money that got him elected," the spokesman said.

The council said that without the DLR extension developers would only build 1,500 of the planned 11,000 new homes at Barking Riverside, and its regeneration would "grind to a halt".

"I am devastated that the excellent progress being made on economic regeneration in east London is now in jeopardy," said council leader Mr Fairbrass.

"To put it bluntly, without the DLR, this regional economic change will not happen. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that may now be lost."



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