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BBC Wales' Penny Roberts
"The land's owners say they've had enough"
 real 56k

Friday, 29 September, 2000, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Wales Millennium Centre site 'saved'
Wales Millennium Centre model
The Wales Millennium Centre has yet to leave the design stage
Cardiff Council has stepped in to protect the Wales Millennium Centre project with an offer to buy the land earmarked for the site.

The site's owners had announced on Thursday that the Cardiff Bay site was up for sale after the WMC board failed to buy the land in an agreed timescale.

Anna Chalkley, a spokesman for the land-owners Grosvenor Waterside, said they had been having informal talks with other businesses interested in the site including residential developers, leisure and retail.

But the council said it has stepped in to prevent the collapse of the flagship scheme.

Cardiff Mayor Russell Goodway
Mayor Russell Goodway: Site is an asset
Lord Mayor Coun Russell Goodway said the move would give the WMC breathing space.

"We think it is right that the council at least protects the project while we work with others to see if we can find a way forward," he said.

"Even if the centre doesn't go ahead, and we sincerely hope it does, the council has acquired an asset for the people of Cardiff.

"The council takes the view that it is an important asset for Cardiff and Wales."

Crisis

Grosvenor Waterside gave the offer a cautious welcome, but said the site was still for sale.

In a statement, the firm said the council's intention to purchase the site was of great interest and would be considered alongside the numerous other expressions of interest that it had already received.

"GW's plans to take it to the open market on Monday have not changed . The council's offer when received will be considered alongside the other offers - each on their own merits," the statement added.

The crisis arose after the failure of the centre's board to buy the prestigious site near the Welsh Assembly's building.

Grosvenor Waterside said they told WMC of their plans to put the land back on the market two weeks ago - but had received no response.

Tom Middlehurst, Assembly culture secretary
Tom Middlehurst: Imposed cost cap
The project to build a new home for the performing arts in Wales started four years ago, but it has yet to get off the drawing board.

The centre was planned to offer a permanent home for Welsh National Opera and create a 2,000-seat theatre.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the forecast cost of the centre could be millions of pounds more than originally projected.

Tom Middlehurst said that it was "imperative" to keep a tight control on public funding for the project and imposed a 75m ceiling.

Revised plans were due to be submitted for approval to the Welsh Assembly's executive.

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