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Cardiff Bay scheme drops showpiece landscaping

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The showpiece £40 million Bute Avenue boulevard at Cardiff Bay (aj 30.10.97), scheduled for completion by mid-1999, will no longer incorporate the landscaping and formal garden elements that formed a central part of Barcelona architect mbm's competition-winning design.

The CityLink consortium, led by Norwest Holst, is going ahead with plans to build 375 homes, mainly in apartments, and ground-floor retail units alongside a dual carriageway, but the visual attractiveness of the seriously delayed scheme has been severely jeopardised.

Cardiff Bay Development Corporation and the CityLink consortium have failed to reach agreement with the operator of the low-quality Cardiff Bay railway spur and its eyesore concrete embankments. Removal of the line and its replacement by a rapid transit light tramway had been a key feature of the original plans, but that element of the design had to be abandoned when none of the bidding consortia were prepared to take it on. Both Railtrack, the line's owner, and Prism Rail, the line's operator, refuse to close or upgrade the line.

A spokesman for the development corporation said that the scheme would still 'deliver a boulevard and square of continental scale and style'. The corporation refutes suggestions that the removal of key elements has wrecked the scheme.

The development is scheduled to begin construction in March, and there are growing concerns that the new roadway will not be finished in time for the Rugby World Cup in 1999, as had been planned. Equally, only a handful of houses are expected to be ready for occupation by then.

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