AMERICAN architect Frank Gehry was due to hold talks this week over designing his first major project in Britain.
Gehry, who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, northern Spain, was to meet regeneration company Sunderland Arc yesterday to discuss a bridge over the Wear in the North-east.

Gehry's only UK project to date is a £900,000 cancer centre in Dundee, now on site.

If the bridge project goes ahead it would be part of a £280m regeneration programme at Wearside, which is masterplanned by CZWG.

A spokesperson for Sunderland Arc said the firm had approached Gehry.

She said: "We have yet to reach an agreement with Frank. He is coming to look at the whole development as well as discussing the bridge."

Sunderland aims to repeat the success of nearby Newcastle upon Tyne, whose Gateshead Millennium Bridge, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, won this year's Stirling Prize.

CZWG's masterplan for the former Vauz brewery site, includes 50,000 m2 of offices, 1000 flats, a 150-bed hotel and leisure and retail space.

Sunderland Arc is a joint venture between Sunderland council, regional development agency One NorthEast and English Partnerships. It expects to raise £200m from the private sector.

Sunderland Arc intends to submit a planning application to the council in the next few weeks. It is in talks with Tesco to buy a 6 ha area owned by the supermarket chain on the site.