Multiplex has pulled out of a £175m leisure and retail project in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, after a disagreement with its design partners.

The Australian contractor withdrew from the joint venture partnership, known as 1249 Regeneration Partnership, which included Ashcroft Estates and Guildhouse Group. The joint venture was initially named preferred developer in December.

Ross McDiven, Multiplex deputy managing director, said the decision to withdraw from the project was the outcome of a lengthy due diligence process. McDiven said the joint venture partners’ vision for the project was inconsistent with Multiplex’s preferred design parameters and would not meet the development division’s risk-return standards.

It is understood that the 1249 Regeneration Partnership will seek another party to assist them in delivering the project for Barnsley council and Yorkshire Forward. Work was due to commence on the scheme in September 2006, but is now likely to start after Easter 2007.

McDiven added: “Multiplex continues to have a solid pipeline of development work in the UK and Europe, highlighted by the major projects of White City in west London, Cricklewood in north London, Gibraltar and the town centre extension at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.”

One analyst said that the decision was consistent with a fresh approach Multiplex was taking when looking at projects.

He said: “After the Wembley debacle and the declaration that the scheme would not make profit, Multiplex is taking a much tougher stance when it comes to risk management.”