Developer in key White City move

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The Independent Online
PROPERTY developer Elliott Bernerd's acquisition of the exclusive Vanderbilt tennis club last week has given him a key advantage in the battle to build a planned pounds 450m shopping and leisure development in London's White City.

Two rival consortia vying to develop the site have been locked in stalemate for the last two years. Half the site is owned by BICC and half by Railtrack.

They have joined forces with Sainsbury, the developer Bride Hall and General Accident, which has said it will provide the pounds 260m of finance required.

The other consortium comprises Mr Bernerd's Chelsfield group, London Transport, the property entrepreneur Godfrey Bradman and Scottish Amicable.

The Vanderbilt's location, on land owned by the Sainsbury consortium, is likely to hamper its plans for developing its half of the 36-acre site.

Although it could go ahead and develop the rest of its own land, it cannot touch the Vanderbilt, which boasts the Princess of Wales, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and Harold Pinter among its members.

The site is already the subject of keen interest from the Department of the Environment. It is unlikely that consent will be granted for piecemeal development in one of greater London's most deprived areas.

Mr Bernerd said: "We are confident this will become a major urban regeneration scheme and will create the Brent Cross of west London, only a mile and a half from Marble Arch."

He is confident that his latest manoeuvre can lead to what he describes as a common-sense solution of the two parties' differences.

Both sides are conscious, however, that unless agreement is reached soon, the project may have to be abandoned.

Whatever the outcome, Bernerd's Vanderbilt purchase will fit well with his existing stake in the up-market Wentworth golf club.