First secretary Rhodri Morgan extends audit three months as he considers scrapping project.
Work has been suspended on the £23m Welsh assembly building for up to six months while a review takes place.

It was thought at first that the audit of the Richard Rogers Partnership-designed building would last three months. It was also thought that work would continue on the scheme during the review. However, a spokesperson for the practice said: “Our work has been suspended in line with the suspension of the building..” The review was set up last month by first secretary Rhodri Morgan.

The architect has rejected claims that cost overruns led to the suspension of the project. The practice said its scheme represented “extraordinary value”, even though the overall cost had almost doubled since the building was first conceived.

In a statement, the practice said: “While we at RRP understand the need for this decision by the first secretary, the announcement clearly makes no criticism of the scheme’s revised budget.”

The statement said that construction costs per square metre had been reduced 15% even though the design now encompassed an area 33% greater than proposed.

It also made clear that the modifications to the design were requested by the client, resulting in the building cost for the frame of the glass debating chamber rising from £8.2m to £12.5m.

Our work has been suspended in line with the suspension of the building

Richard Rogers

The statement added: “The quoted figure of £22.8m refers to overall project costs to the National Assembly and falls outside the scope of RRP’s brief.”

A spokesperson for the assembly said the decision to suspend the work had nothing to do with the role of Richard Rogers Partnership.

She said: “There is no criticism. Rhodri Morgan wants to have a detailed look at the situation.”

Morgan is understood to be considering whether to scrap the building and stay at the assembly’s temporary home, a converted office block, or move to different premises in Cardiff, such as the City Hall.