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Dome facing fresh cash crisis over demolition of contents

The beleaguered New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) is bracing itself for an extra £15 million loss when the contents of the Millennium Dome are ripped out.

The NMEC's director of site structures, David Trench, estimated this week that it will cost £17 million to remove the contents of the Dome and that the proceeds from those parts that can be sold will total just £2 million.

He also revealed that only two of the 14 exhibition zones are destined for a life after Greenwich. British Airways is planning to reuse its Our Planet ride and a number of leisure park operators are interested in the Timekeepers feature, which has been popular with children.

Trench said the rest of the contents will be demolished, once ownership details have been established, and that the Skyscape cinema and the 224 canopies around the site will also be taken down. The entire process is expected to take six months and will involve the removal of 7,000 tonnes of steel and 30,000 lorry trips.

'The best value will be realised in the lighting, sound and video equipment, ' said Trench. From 1 January, the NMEC will spend six weeks stripping hi-tech elements before the wreckers are brought in.

Meanwhile, English Partnerships is continuing to look for a buyer for the Dome and is in exclusive talks with Legacy, the consortium which lost out to Dome Europe in the initial competition. The Legacy bid includes designs by Lifschutz Davidson for a business park. Proposals from other losing consortia have also been resurrected and a number of new proposals have emerged, including the demolition of the Dome itself.

These schemes are currently being kept under wraps and no time scale has been set for the final sale of the Dome, said an EP spokesman.

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