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Three in line for Hepworth gallery

CONTRACTS - WEST YORKSHIRE

THREE firms have been given an extra week to price a £23 million art gallery in Wakefield.

Wates, Laing O'Rourke and local firm Quarmby Construction now have until July 18 to submit bids to Wakefield Metropolitan District Council after the tender period was extended.

A source close to the deal said: 'It's quite a complicated job so we're going to need a bit more time to get bids in.'

A winner will be chosen by the end of next month, with work beginning on site in September. The contract includes a footbridge over the River Calder to improve pedestrian access to the city centre, along with a new car park and coach drop-off point.

Called Hepworth Wakefield, the gallery has been designed by London architect David Chipperfield, the firm which designed a new studio for Angel of the North sculptor Anthony Gormley, and will form a key part of the city's waterfront regeneration proposals.

These plans feature a number of riverside apartments, office and leisure accommodation, restaurants, cafes and landscaped gardens.

The prospects for Hepworth Wakefield had been th rown into doubt when a lottery bid was rejected, but it received a boost last September with a £4.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The 5,500 sq m gallery was granted detailed planning permission last year and is due to open in 2008.

The gallery takes its name from world-famous sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth, who was born in Wakefield in 1903 and whose estate will be donating 30 original plaster sculptures to the complex when it opens.