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Wirral rows over 'grandiose' Graces

Danish practice 3XNielsen Architects (3XN) has hit back at claims that its £65 million museum for Liverpool is 'pie in the sky'.

Wirral council leader Steve Foulkes has attacked plans for the proposed Fourth Grace development, featuring a museum and winter garden exhibition centre, as 'hurried and rushed drawings on the back of an envelope'.

The Labour councillor claims the designs are 'grandiose, pie in the sky'. He fears the scheme, which has won a £10 million cash injection from the EU's Objective One fund, is diverting money away from worthier projects on Merseyside.

'The mistakes made with the original Fourth Grace project are being made again just to keep Objective One money in Liverpool. Every time one of these scheme comes up it ties up money. If the scheme isn't built by 2006 the money will be lost, ' Foulkes said.

But 3XN said Foulkes was simply concerned with securing EU funding for Wirral Council. It insisted the Liverpool Museum plans were deliberately grandiose to reflect the grandeur of the existing 'Three Graces' lining Liverpool's waterfront.

'We understand his wish to get funding his own way. But all designs go back to this kind of design stage. We are confident of having designs in place on time for the funding application, ' a 3XN spokesman said.

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