Hong Kong billionaire poised to resurrect London’s ‘ghost town’

Beijing-based Advanced Business Park (ABP) was awarded a £1.7bn contract in 2013
Beijing-based Advanced Business Park (ABP) was awarded a £1.7bn contract in 2013

A Hong Kong billionaire is poised to resurrect plans for a vast East London development once championed by Boris Johnson and David Cameron.

Ivan Ko, a property tycoon behind the redevelopment of Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, has shown an interest in a 35-acre site opposite London City Airport that was originally planned to be the capital's answer to Venice, according to City sources.

Beijing-based Advanced Business Park (ABP) was awarded a £1.7bn contract in 2013 by then London mayor Boris Johnson to develop the site. Proposals included a snowdome and Chinese schools, offices, shops and homes.

Announced as Chinese investors flocked to London in the wake of the Olympics, it was hoped that the scheme would create thousands of jobs in the area.

However, construction was halted at the site two years ago which is now being called a “ghost town”.

City Hall agreed a final termination with ABP in February this year.

The site has piqued the interest of Mr Ko at a time of intense scrutiny over Chinese investment in the UK.

Rishi Sunak said last week that a “golden era” of economic ties with China has come to an end - the phrase is long associated with Mr Cameron and his push for closer relations with Beijing a decade ago.

The Prime Minister said: "We recognise China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism."

Mr Ko made an eye-catching pitch to Irish officials two and a half years ago when he bid to build a new city in the country that would allow 50,000 Hong Kong residents to escape Chinese security laws.

It was reported at the time that he was considering six locations between Dublin and Belfast to build the new city, which he called “Nextpolis”.

Mr Ko is also chairman of the Recas Group, a property company that rebuilt part of Hong Kong Airport in 2017. According to the Recas website, the company also has a partnership with the Grand China Fund. Mr Ko is a member of the advisory committee of the Grand China Fund, which invests in property in mainland China.

Victoria Harbour Group did not respond to a request for comment.