New owners speed up plans for East London mega mall
The world's biggest owner of shopping malls, Australian group Westfield, has accelerated its plans for a 1.5 million sq ft (139,350 sq m) mall at Stratford in East London. The land will be available six months earlier than previously thought, and a planning application is expected be lodged with the London Borough of Newham before the end of this year.

The development consortium behind the Stratford City scheme, comprising Westfield, Multiplex, Stanhope and London & Continental Railways, has also signed a£120 million package of community benefits, clearing the way for an early start on the project. Stratford City forms a part of the capital's bid for the 2012 Olympics.

Stratford's Channel Tunnel rail link is on track to open in 2007, and rail operator London & Continental is expected to release land for the mall ahead of schedule in mid-2006. This will include space for three department stores and about 120 retail units, supported by 400,000 sq ft (37,160 sq m) of leisure space, 400,000 sq ft of hotel development, commercial space and 500 homes.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: 'This is excellent news for the regeneration of East London and for our bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. The development of Stratford City will create a thriving urban centre, and it will happen at a greater pace than we could have imagined.'

When finished, Stratford City will include 13.5 million sq ft (1.3 million sq m) of space, including retail, offices, leisure and housing - making it almost as big as Canary Wharf.