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Carlisle snubs BDP in people's poll on planning and archeological matte

The people of Carlisle have voted overwhelmingly to drop plans by bdp to create a glass pyramid and cube millennium gallery next to the city's castle and to go with a more expensive rotunda proposal from Stanton Williams instead.

Almost seventy per cent of 19,464 people in the city who voted in the largest-ever consultation process carried out by the council said they wanted to see the Stanton Williams proposal, with only 18 per cent going for bdp and even fewer - 14 per cent - opting for the scheme bdp came up with as a reaction to harsh early criticism levelled against its proposals.

The £6.4-million project, which has caused massive controversy in the north and some say even led to the Labour council losing out to the Conservatives in May's local elections, is known as the Gateway City millennium project. It links the historic town to the eleventh century castle area via an underpass beneath a major trunk road and was handed a £3.2 million millennium grant in February 1997.

bdp was initially commissioned to come up with an above-ground structure for the subterranean gallery but English Heritage chief Sir Jocelyn Stevens intervened after locals fired off angry letters to him in despair over the appearance of the scheme. eh did a u-turn when Stevens said the bdp scheme was incongruous and unacceptable and suggested that Stanton Williams draw up a scheme instead. The new architects' design is of local red sandstone and has a glazed showcase for a sculpture, a glass lift, and an entrance for the existing museum and art gallery and a terrace with views out across the castle.

Although its plans will cost an extra £1 million - to be paid for indirectly from the council tax - and would open in Easter 2001, far later than originally planned, the council was expected to go with the plans at a meeting on Tuesday evening because of the level of public support.

Council leader Mike Mitchelson said that bdp had been commissioned under the previous Labour administration, which 'had been arrogant and railroaded things'. The proposals had attracted such a level of opposition and media commentary in the city that they had played a part in the political shake- up. 'It's unbelievable' he said. 'It's had such a great public interest.'

Meanwhile eh, which is a key mover rs regarding the castle - a scheduled ancient monument - said it was up to the council to decide. But it is, like much of Carlisle, supporting the Stanton Williams proposal.

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