'Triumphant Arch' will crown the new Wembley

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The Independent Online

A dramatic "triumphant arch" will crown the new £475 million national stadium at Wembley, it was announced today.

A dramatic "triumphant arch" will crown the new £475 million national stadium at Wembley, it was announced today.

The 153 metre-tall steel structure arching directly over the arena replaces the original design, featuring four sky-scraping masts, revealed in the summer.Architect Lord Foster, speaking at the launch of the new design at Wembley, north west London, said: "It is a triumphant arch.

"In the spirit of any team, we have sought to push back the limits to generate an improved performance and in this case design."

The unveiling of the arch came as the full planning application for the new 90,000-seat English national stadium, which will receive £120m in Lottery funding, was submitted to the local authority, Brent Council.

Bosses of Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL), in charge of the venture, face a tight deadline to obtain planning permission ahead of the decision expected next July by football's governing body, FIFA, on who should host the 2006 World Cup.

Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, also chairman of WNSL, declared himself confident that all deadlines would be met as he proclaimed the arch design was now "frozen" and could not be tinkered with by a faceless design committee.

"There will be no committees on this Wembley stadium. We have a commitment to what we have just unveiled and we are going to build it. We open in 2003," he told a launch news conference.

Lord Foster denied his original blueprint had been changed after criticism that it would be too similar to the Stade National in Paris and the Millennium Dome - designed by rival Lord Rogers.

The architect, who designed Stansted Airport, underlined the unique nature of his new feature, dreamed up within days of unveiling the original design in July, but insisted it had been brought in for practical reasons.

Lord Foster said: "It is a bonus that it will be unique. The original problem was that the masts obscured the view from the banqueting halls down Olympic Way and this is a more economical and dramatic solution."

The new design, which uses up to a third less steel than the original, will not increase the projected cost of the project, he added.