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Arup 'shafted' in Hull sports stadium copyright wrangle

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Arup Associates has vowed to be wary of competitions or tenders with copyright clauses after Miller Partnership won the job to build a new £39 million stadium in Hull with an 'identical' design.

Arup Associates architect Dipesh Patel, who is also working on the firm's Manchester Commonwealth Games scheme, was speaking to the AJ this week after the Miller Partnership issued publicity of its 'Kingston upon Hull Community Stadium'.

Miller architect Roy McLean said he hoped to start building the 'unique' multi-use community facility in the next two months, after the local authority selected Birse Construction as main contractor.

But Patel said a copyright wrangle had led to Arup losing the job to design the new 25,000-seat football and rugby stadium - and about £20,000 along with it. 'I do feel we were shafted, ' he told the AJ. 'I'm annoyed with project manager Drivers Jonas.We're never going to agree to give up a copyright for two months' work. The broader thing is using people to get their good ideas.'

The local council initially appointed Miller Partnership to prepare a feasibility study on the new stadium for Hull City FC and the town's rugby league team. Then, last summer, the local authority decided to tender for a concept design, which Arup entered and won with a £28 million scheme featuring a cantilevered roof and four 16m tall elliptical 'lanterns', housing staircases (AJ 2.11.00).

After being shown images of Miller's proposed project, Patel said it was 'identical'. But McLean said there had been a further 'competitive interview' round in which Miller had triumphed against Arup and HOK. And John Topliss, team leader for Hull council on the scheme, was adamant that his department had acted properly.

'There are always winners and losers, ' he said. ' I don't feel we shafted Arup - they were paid for what they did and they always knew there'd be a subsequent technical round.'

Patel said his firm had been aware that copyright was handed over, but thought 'an understanding' had been reached: 'We saw the red flag flying but thought to ourselves, 'surely they wouldn't do that, would they?'' Miller is now hoping to begin construction on the West Park site, about a mile from the city centre, after final discussions with planners.

'It is annoying, ' added Patel. 'We did see it coming but didn't think they had the audacity to do it.'

The Miller Partnership scheme is a symmetrical bowl design and will incorporate educational and community facilities, including a library, sports hall, all-weather pitches and BMX track.

The project also involves the relocation of the park's aviaries, a remodelling and landscaping of the nearby park and new access, bridges and upgraded infrastructure.Miller won outline planning permission last December and expects to complete the building at the end of next year.

Patel said Arup spent about £80,000 but had been paid £60,000 for its work.

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