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Dumped! Ash Sakula frustrated in Huddersfield despite scheme OK

Ash Sakula Architects has been dumped from a major regeneration project in Huddersfield, despite winning planning permission for the scheme.

The London-based practice, which has the support of local big-name architect Irena Bauman, was dropped at the end of last year after the local council suddenly put the £3 million project to an OJEU notice.

The move prompted frustration from Bauman herself and Robert Sakula, who questioned whether the 2,000m 2 media centre will ever be completed.

Sakula, a partner at Ash Sakula, said: 'I don't know if anyone will be able to deliver this building effectively now, after we've seen the design process through this far.' Even as the architect was presenting the scheme to planners, the council was inviting further interest in the OJEU to see the design through to Stage L.

Once the scheme had secured planning late last year, the council sent out a pre-qualification questionnaire to interested engineers, consultancies, and architects.

But after a protracted period during which Ash Sakula was asked to resubmit its questionnaire, the architectural practice, which employs 10 staff, was dropped from the scheme.

The council is expected to begin interviewing shortlisted candidates this week. Roland Sansom, principle project development officer with Kirklees Metropolitan Council's Partnerships and Procurement Service, said: 'Ash Sakula performed less well in the assessment procedure and we had better submissions from elsewhere.' Sakula believes one of the criteria his firm fell down on related to modest turnover. The council refused to comment.

Sansom said: 'We are now looking to work with those who can take on the project planning and management. We aren't in the league of Liverpool and looking to create the Fourth Grace.

We need something sympathetic to the environment.' Bauman, who worked on an earlier phase of the same scheme, also criticised the council for not advertising in the OJEU earlier and for the quality of its tendering document. 'The council should have selected the team at the beginning which it thought would see it through, ' she said.

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