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At last! Welsh Millennium Centre is set to proceed

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Work on Percy Thomas Partnership's long-awaited Wales Millennium Centre is finally set to get under way. The £75 million-plus centre - which won planning approval back in 1999 and was due to open by March 2001 - has faced major delays due to funding difficulties and Welsh Assembly bureaucracy.

Construction work is due to start within the next month, once the assembly approves the final outstanding legal issues this week. A spokesperson for the centre said they were 'very positive' that the project would proceed at last.

The news follows confirmation that the assembly will meet the £37 million funding shortfall. The Millennium Commission is committed to providing £30 million with the Arts Council for Wales putting up another £10 million.

But project architect Jonathan Adams remained sceptical. 'There was nothing to stop us going ahead a year ago, ' he said. 'I'm not popping the champagne corks just yet. Call me superstitious.'

And he added that while the delays had been frustrating, they had allowed for the refinement of the design. 'If it goes ahead as it is, it will be the equal of any other Millennium project, ' he said.

The building, on the site of the abandoned Zaha Hadid Cardiff Opera House scheme, will house 10 arts organisations including the Welsh National Opera and the Diversions Dance Company. It will include a 1,900-seat theatre at its centre, enveloped by a huge steel shell 36m high at its peak.

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