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Millennium make or break Problems have dogged four of the largest millennium projects, including the Cardiff Millennium stadium, against which Laing was forced to make a 20M provision for losses last

When the Government set up the Millennium Commission in 1993, it triggered a remarkable construction programme. Grants worth hundreds of millions of pounds kick-started 188 capital projects nationwide, many of which would otherwise not have been built. Projects range from museums and sports stadia to small projects like church

floodlighting.

The largest projects in the programme have reached a critical stage this year as individual project backers, their contractors and consultants faced up to the practicalities of delivering their projects as envisaged, on time and to budget.

Four of the 10 biggest schemes appear to be progressing well, largely because they managed to secure match funding for their grants in time to keep the projects on schedule.

These include Birmingham's 116M Millennium Point science centre, Belfast's 90M Odyssey sports and leisure centre project, Salford's

Lowry centre and the Tate Gallery of Modern Art in London. The Tate and the Lowry centre are well into the construction phase, with much of the critical construction work now complete. Odyssey and Millennium Point are on track, although both have still to get into the construction phase.

Another four in the top 10 list have been less fortunate. They have suffered from the effects of inexperienced or over-ambitious clients, difficulties in raising match funding and tight construction deadlines.

The biggest problems undoubtedly belong to the Millennium Rugby Stadium in Cardiff. A combination of

local politics and a construction deadline tied into the start of the Rugby World Cup next summer seems to be plaguing the contract to construct the new home of Welsh Rugby.

Other projects to have suffered include Doncaster's Earth Centre, which has been forced to compromise its policy of using sustainable materials. This project has also run into difficulties securing match funding - a factor that has led to it being split into three phases.

Liverpool's National Discovery Centre and the Wales Millennium Centre projects have also been scaled back, after failing to reach ambitious match funding targets.

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