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Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Millennium Centre land deal boost
Wales Millennium Centre plans
An artist's impression of the Wales Millennium Centre
The troubled 85m Wales Millennium Centre has been boosted by an agreement for the proposed site of the centre to be sold to Cardiff County Council.

Land owners Grosvenor Waterside announced on Wednesday that contracts had been exchanged with the local authority for the 4.7-acre site in Cardiff Bay.

The Wales Millennium Commission and National Assembly - which has provided funding towards developing the site - will now discuss taking the scheme forward.

The scheme was thrown into doubt when Grosvenor Waterside announced that time had run out for the WMC to come up with a deal for the land.

'Commence soon'

Cardiff council intervened with an offer to buy the land in order to secure the project's future.

But the deal is limited to a 12-month contract and Grosvenor has said that it hopes the project "commences soon".

At stake are plans for a 2,000-seat arena in Cardiff Bay.

The centre would house the Welsh National Opera and stage West End scale plays and musicals.

Earlier this month, Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan announced he was not prepared to fund the project without a 2m report on its design and cost.

'Scrapped and dumped'

But the commissioning of the report would put the development back six months.

Mr Morgan has insisted he is still backing the centre, but Labour MP Llew Smith called for it to be scrapped and dumped in the dustbin of history.

The announcement added further problems for the WMC, which has spent four years developing the plans for Wales's biggest arts project.

The assembly had been urged to support the scheme with a grant of 18m, but Mr Morgan has said he required assurances the scheme could be built to budget and could operate commercially.

A total of 9m has already been spent on consultancy and design of the centre.

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See also:

12 Oct 00 | Wales
New drama for Millennium Centre
10 Oct 00 | Wales
Cash call for Millennium Centre
04 Oct 00 | Wales
No 'Dome' for the bay - Morgan
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