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Rogers at Welsh Assembly again as rivals shun project

Richard Rogers Partnership has won back its Welsh Assembly job (above), but only after the other teams in the running pulled out, the AJ has learnt.

Stride Treglown, which was named by the Welsh Assembly last week as its back-up option for the controversial project, turned down the chance to join RRP on a two-strong shortlist. The practice cited the alarming financial risk of the project as the reason for taking a back seat, and added that the three other teams initially competing also backed out prior to the final selection.

The AJ understands that Skanska, Robert McAlpine and Laing O'Rourke had all made initial expressions of interest.

Gareth Davies, director of Stride Treglown's Cardiff office, said his team, headed up by contractor David McLean, turned down the offer to go forward to the next stage - the development of a detailed bid - without realistic payment. When finance minister Edwina Hart stood firm with her offer of just £100,000 towards the team's costs, it stepped down, he said. The true cost in developing such a complicated bid has been estimated at as much as £500,000. 'So it was by default that RRP won the scheme, ' Davies added.

He also criticised the arrangement chosen by the Assembly - a design and build contract - which, for a project of such size, exposed the teams to excessive financial risk and did not follow the principles of Rethinking Construction, he said.

RRP was sensationally reappointed last week after being dropped 18 months ago amidst accusations of spiralling costs. Its team, headed up by Taylor Woodrow, has four months to develop its offer.

RRP was unavailable for comment, but a spokesman for Taylor Woodrow said the consortium was delighted with the reselection: 'We were not worried that the previous problems would damage our chances of reappointment. The fact is we have a fantastically strong design team.

'The next few months will be about ensuring we have excellent communications with the assembly and its advisors, ' he added.

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