Letter: Cardiff has been saved from an operatic folly

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The Independent Online
From Ms Liz Mahoney

Sir: According to Lord Crickhowell, chairman of the Cardiff Bay Opera House Trust, the Millennium Commission's refusal to fund the proposed opera house is "incomprehensible".

The only "incomprehensible" aspect of the Cardiff Bay Opera House shambles is the arrogance of the Cardiff Bay Opera House Trust and the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation. The opera house trust has spent millions of pounds of public money on supporting a design that was unpopular and over budget. The Millennium Commission knew better.

It is not yet clear why Cardiff Bay Development Corporation poured public money into the opera house trust, despite massive public opposition to Zaha Hadid's "crystal necklace" design. The then Heritage Secretary, Stephen Dorrell, insisted almost a year ago that

The last thing we want out of the Millennium Commission is a group of white elephants, so it's public support that really matters.

The trust planned to seek private investment totalling pounds 40m, but ignored the fact that the Cardiff Bay Business Forum voted overwhelmingly for Professor Manfredi Nicoletti's "glass wave", after presentations to forum members from Zaha Hadid, Manfredi Nicoletti, Norman Foster and Itsuko Hasegawa.

The suggestion in 1994 by Mathew Prichard, former chairman of the opera house trust, that "Cardiff will be a focus of the world in architecture because we have had the courage to choose a radical design" has returned to haunt Cardiff.

Yours sincerely,

Liz Mahoney


23 December