FaulknerBrowns axed in Cardiff
Cardiff City Council has dismissed the lead architect of its vast £700 million International Sports Village development, FaulknerBrowns, following arguments over the scheme's future.
The council has launched a search for a replacement architect to draw-up a whole new masterplan to make the project 'far more commercially-driven'.
But responding to the news, FaulknerBrowns project director Russ Davenport attacked the scheme's backers, predicting the development 'will never get off the ground'.
The 4ha mixed-use regeneration scheme project - jointly developed with local practice the Burgess Partnership - has been beset with planning problems since its inception in 1997, including its condemnation by the Welsh National Assembly as 'unrealistic'.
'It has all come down to money, ' Davenport told the AJ. 'Cardiff council is trying to slot in shed retail in places where it should not go, just to make the project's figures stand up. The retail aspect has overtaken all the other elements of the masterplan.'
And he warned that there is 'little chance' that it will ever be built.
'There has been so much procrastination and there are so many different parties pulling in different directions, it now seems completely unfeasible.'
'If we were ever asked to get back involved then we'd consider it, but I'd be really very reticent, ' Davenport added.
But the city council's project director, Pat Thompson, dismissed the criticism, insisting that FaulknerBrowns' plans were only dropped because the scheme has 'moved on so much'.
And he added that he expects a new developer and a new set of architects to be appointed 'within weeks'. 'I believe we are now making serious progress and I think it will really take off now, ' he added.
Robin Coombes, a partner in the Burgess Partnership, confirmed that FaulknerBrowns had been eased out of the project because the sporting aspects, including a 50m swimming pool and a new arena, have become 'smaller and less significant'.
'The City Council dropped FaulknerBrowns in an effort to make the project's financial figures stand up, ' he said.
The Welsh Assembly government refused to comment, beyond saying it hopes the project 'will still go ahead'.