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Nuttall's gallery job gets the brush-off

CONTRACTS - MARGATE

AN ART gallery planned just off the Kent coast has sunk after costs trebled to £50 million.

Margate's Turner Contemporary Art Gallery was binned by the county council nearly a year after Nuttall was awarded the contract to build it.

Costs had originally been planned at £17 million but last week council leader Paul Carter said: 'The original design for Turner Contemporary was bold and exciting, but a figure of nearly £50 million for the gallery alone ? with no guarantee that the cost would not climb further ? cannot be borne in part by a local authority acting as protector of the public purse.' But one source said the council had got its sums wrong in the first place. He said: 'The £17 million figure they came up with was completely unrealistic ? this building was going to stand in the sea, after all.' Paintwork on the pebbleshaped structure would have had to have been stripped and repainted every decade and local councillors were worried that maintenance costs would have made the building uneconomical.

In January last year a prototype of the building was washed away in storms.

Nuttall has been paid for the design work it has carried out and is not believed to have lost any money. Building work was due to have started in May and be completed in summer 2007.

New proposals for the gallery are due to be announced in April. The council has said the revised plans will now put the gallery on dry land.