Smokery ends Olympics site fight

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The Independent Online

The future of Britain's oldest salmon smokery has been secured after its owner agreed to move to make way for the London Olympics.

Forman & Son, which supplies smoked fish and other delicacies to some of the world's best restaurants and hotels from its East End factory, has agreed to move to a site just outside the proposed Olympic Park.

The company, which was founded in 1905 and has 60 staff, will move to new premises on the appropriately named Fish Island after exchanging contracts at 6.30pm on Friday.

The deal comes as the public inquiry opens today into the clearance of 500 acres in the Lower Lea Valley near Stratford, the largest compulsory purchase order in recent times.

It is thought the London Development Agency, which handles land deals for the London Mayor Ken Livingstone, agreed to hand over the land on one last-minute condition. Lance Forman, the head of the company and the most high-profile opponent of the CPO process, has dropped his request to cross-examine Lord Coe, the chairman of the 2012 Games organising committee, at the public inquiry this week.

Forman and Son, founded in 1905, is situated on Marshgate Lane industrial estate on land earmarked for the Olympic stadium and is now primed to move to its new premises which became available after a housing association was refused residential planning permission.

Negotiatioins are ongoing with the LDA regarding cost of relocation, and Forman feels time is short with the bulldozers due to move in next July.

Mr Forman said: "We are happy with the site. It is so much better than the alternative which was being offered in Leyton. It safeguards at least 50 jobs. What we now have to work out is how we can relocate without major disruption to business, and who foots the bill for that."

Today London's Excel centre will open its doors for the start of a public inquiry that will see Sebastian Coe, chairman of the organising committee, and David Higgins, the chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority and GarethBlacker of the London Development Agency argue their case.

They will be opposed by up to 100 individuals and businesses raising a total of 400 objections. According to the LDA 80 per cent of the land deals have been done, representing 65 per cent of the employees in the affected 500-acre area of the Lower Lea Valley.