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Ball bounces back to lodge multimillion-pound Eden writ

The charitable trust behind the Eden Project botanical centre in Cornwall is facing a £5.5 million lawsuit from the project's co-founder, Jonathan Ball.

Bude-based architect Ball set up the £80 million project to build the world's largest greenhouse with Tim Smit in 1994 and was a director ofEden Project Limited (EPL) until his sacking in June this year.Now he has started a High Court action demanding a 4 per cent share in the project and royalty income worth £1.5 million.

A former candidate for RIBApresident, Ball appointed the design team ofNicholas Grimshaw & Partners and Anthony Hunt Associates but now claims he was steadily squeezed out of the project team.He has argued that he has not been rewarded for the financial risks he took on the scheme, which included using his house as collateral on early financing and neglecting his own Bude-based architectural business. In the past six years his practice has shrunk from astaffofninetojustthree.

In the writ Ball claims that he was cut off from information required to carry on his work; that he was denied a regularly-paid post unlike his fellow directors; that he was not credited on a recent book about the scheme; and that his intellectual property rights over the project's trademark and logo were overturned.

Last year he was paid £233,000 for work until the end of 1997 but he claims this is not enough, especially since he says Smit agreed to run the project on a 50/50 basis.The writ also claims that he spent 7,000 man-hours on the scheme since 1994.

'When you have been one of two innovators on something so magnificent, it is hard to wake up and find yourselfnot wanted on board, 'Ball said.

EPL pledged to fight the court action. 'We refute this and we will defend it in its entirety, ' said EPLmedia director Paul Travers.

Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners architect Jolyon Brewis said: 'The relationships within the client body is an area we don't have an involvement in.'

The Nicholas Grimshaw & Partnersdesigned Bath Spa project is facing a £500,000 bill this week following the conclusion to a month-long legal tussle with environmentalists.The client on the £19 million scheme, Bath and North East Somerset Council, has agreed to pay a £30,000 out-of-court settlement to campaign group the Springs Foundation, and is facing a £400,000 bill arising from delays to engineering work and legal costs (see AJ9.11.00).

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