LSE delivers 65m pounds bid for County Hall

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The Independent Online
THE London School of Economics yesterday submitted its controversial pounds 65m bid to buy County Hall, the former Greater London Council headquarters, and transform it into a European university - 20 minutes before the midday deadline, writes Ian MacKinnon.

Officials at the the London Residuary Body - set up by the Government in 1985 to wind up the GLC's affairs - will now examine the merits of the scheme. They will then pass it, with observations, to Michael Howard, the Secretary of State for the Environment, who will make the final decision.

But the Japanese Shirayama Corporation, which has already struck a deal to buy the riverside section of the complex for a rumoured pounds 60m, condemned the new bid as a 'dogs' dinner', so low as to be an insult to the London boroughs which own the Grade II- listed building.

A clause in the deal, signed last March, allows the Residuary Body to pull out at any time until the end of the year if it is in the public interest.

The Osaka-based hotel and leisure group is preparing to take legal action against the body and the Government over the handling of the sale.

A spokesman for the group said that barristers were preparing a case to claim compensation and damages for losses 'past and future' because of the company's inability to pursue its plan.

The Japanese group, which plans to spend pounds 150m on creating a hotel on the site, launched a furious assault against Mr Howard ealier this week because of the delays. The LSE's bid is bound to cause further hold-ups.