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Cardiff sports village sabotaged by landowners

Cardiff Bay Development Corporation has dealt a potentially fatal blow to plans for a £240 million international sports village designed by the Burgess Partnership and FaulknerBrowns for the city's waterside.

In a surprise move, supported by its fellow landowner the abp subsidiary Grosvenor Waterside, cbdc has offered to make available free of charge a 1.4ha site near the city centre, as a replacement location for the city's demolished Empire Pool. The new 50m international-class swimming pool was to be an integral part of the planned sports village on the Bay, along with a new stadium for Cardiff City fc, a hotel, and 600 new homes (aj 23.4.98).

The cbdc, to be wound up in March 2000, has also promised to make good the shortfall between a possible £9 million Sports Council of Wales lottery grant and the suggested complex's total £20 million cost. The new Welsh secretary of state, Alun Michael, has given his approval to the cbdc offers.

The cbdc's initiative has also endangered well-supported plans to build a £4 million multicultural arts centre on the new site. Until the latest about-face, the centre's promoters had been assured of cbdc's backing for the scheme. cbdc and Grosvenor Waterside want to sell the proposed sports village site for houses, shops and offices - a so-called 'urban village' - and value the 30ha at around £35 million.

Local councillors and sports leaders are dismayed by the cbdc proposals, especially as no provision can be made for the replacement pool's running costs in council budgets.

Ever since the sports village plans were first announced in April, cbdc leaders have been against the development, and their continued opposition has delayed the project's progress. The entire scheme was jeopardised recently when cbdc refused to withdraw objections to the granting of planning permission. After protracted and apparently fruitful discussions, provisional permission was given (aj 8.10.98), and cbdc undertook to work with the promoters to push the project forward.

If cbdc's offer is accepted, the promoters of the sports village scheme are likely to turn to Bristol as an alternative location.

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