London's Millennium Dome could become a hi-tech business park after all, following an about-turn by the company that had previously defeated the 'Silicon Dome' bid.
Legacy today renewed its bid for the Dome - a giant dome-shaped tent on the banks of the river Thames - after Nomura, which in July defeated Legacy in its bid to take over the Dome next year, withdrew.
Legacy contacted the UK government to confirm its interest within hours of Nomura's withdrawal, a government spokesman told vnunet.com.
Nomura, which won government approval for its bid in July, planned to keep the Dome as a leisure attraction and had signed a deal with the BBC to bring its popular Walking with Dinosaurs programme to life in the Greenwich venue. Space had also been allocated on the site for hotels, retail shops and leisure attractions.
However, the bid was scrapped after consortium leaders grew concerned over the Dome's viability. This weekend, news broke that the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) wanted a further £47m handout from the government to keep the Dome operating until the end of the year.
The NMEC recently started discounting tickets and has downgraded its prediction of total visitors by the end of the year from six million to 4.5 million. Nomura said that the discounting broke its arrangement with the government.
With Nomura out of the running, Legacy would appear to be in pole position. However, government officials were stressing on Tuesday afternoon that Legacy's position as beaten finalist and swift confirmation that it was back in the running does not give it an advantage.
"It's only been a couple of hours since Nomura pulled out," said the government spokesman. "We'll be asking the English Partnership [which made recommendations on the original bids] to explore all options.
"This will mean giving the other losing bidders a chance to contact us. Also, there was another bid made originally which was too late under the competition rules but was worthy of consideration."
Legacy planned to create a hi-tech, highly flexible business campus where bio-medical, technology and telecoms companies can thrive.
"We want companies to be able to meet and interact both face-to-face and online in a series of physical and virtual systems," Robert Bourne, chief executive of Legacy, said when outlining his business plans.
Bourne was in a series of meetings when contacted about Nomura's withdrawal.
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