Laing O'Rourke has been tipped to beat Bovis Lend Lease and Sir Robert McAlpine to a £350m shopping centre in Cardiff for developer Land Securities

The St David's 2 scheme, a joint venture between the developer and Capital Shopping Centres, includes a 24,100 m² John Lewis department store. It is scheduled to open by the end of 2008.

It is understood that final interviews for the contract were held last week, but that no formal decision has yet been announced.

Construction of the 90,000 m2 project, designed by Benoy, will involve demolition of the Wales National Ice Rink and a Toys R Us store. The total investment in the site is expected to reach about £535m.

The centrepiece of the project will be an arcade that runs through the middle and links a series of new public spaces including squares and tree-lined boulevards.

The scheme will include a 3000-space car park, 128 retail units and 6000 m² of cafes, bars and restaurants.

The St David’s 2 scheme includes a 24,100 m2 John Lewis department store. It is scheduled to open by the end of 2008

A 5100 m2 public library, designed by Building Design Partnership, and more than 300 residential units are also planned.

The St David's Partnership joint venture signed a development agreement with Cardiff council on 15 December 2005. A compulsory purchase order has been obtained and enabling works have begun on site, undertaken by specialist utilities contractor Clancy Docwra. Construction is expected to start by September this year.

The scheme will sit alongside the St David's shopping centre, a single-level 40,000 m2 mall housing 70 shops and a Debenhams department store.

Local controversy has surrounded the scheme because it will deprive the city's ice hockey team, the Cardiff Devils, of a home for at least five years. A new rink is part of a £500m sports village planned for the city.