BALFOUR Beatty could be in line for £100 million-worth of work after becoming favourite for the first phase of a retail park in the south-west.
The firm is set to see off bids from Sir Robert McAlpine and Carillion to pick up the £14 million deal on the outskirts of Gloucester.HBG also showed interest in the scheme but was ruled out early on.
A source at one losing bidder said: 'The winner of the first phase will be in a very strong position for further stages.' But he added: 'It is not a straightforward job.
There's a lot of risk involved.'
Contractors are particularly nervous about the extent of contamination on the site, which was previously home to a cattle market and council tip.
One said: 'It's a tricky one to call.There's all sorts of stuff in there - everything down to babies' nappies.
We've had talks with the Environment Agency but they can't tell you what you can do - only chase you when things go wrong.'
Sir Robert McAlpine is understood to be Balfour Beatty's closest rival for the deal, which is thought to hinge on the arrangements for land remediation.
The 21.5 ha site is being developed by Grantchester Estates, a subsidiary of property giant Hammerson.
The first phase covers a new B&Q store and 1,000space car park.
The completed scheme, which will be known as St Oswald's Park, will provide 16,700 sq m of retail space as well as almost 20,000 sq m split between leisure and light industrial uses. A residential development of 450 houses is also planned for the site, of which 150 will be affordable homes.
As well as paying the city council for the land, Hammerson has had to reimburse the council for costs of £92,000 incurred during the clearance of the site towards the end of last year.
Construction work is due to start on the first phase in August and will last around a year.