Edinburgh concert hall price may have doubled to £90m amid costly delays

Developers admit "indeterminate delay" causes costs to rise

Monday, 16th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 16th December 2019, 6:42 am
An artist's impression of the Dunard Centre

The soaring cost of the Capital’s troubled new concert hall project are feared to have risen to as much as double the original estimate of £45 million.

The expected bill is understood to have risen beyond the inflated £70 million which the project's backers confirmed in the autumn.

The concert hall team refused to confirm or deny suggestions that the likely cost had risen as high as £90 million, insisting final costings were now unclear due to the project having been put on hold for an unknown amount of time.

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Edinburgh's £45m concert hall backers exploring alternative sites as project pau...

The Evening News reported last week how plans to build the first new concert hall in Edinburgh in more than 100 years have been paused.

Developers behind the ambitious project - originally priced at £45m - are exploring other sites amid a legal battle over their proposals.

Impact Scotland secured planning permission for the Dunard Centre, to be built behind the RBS building at St Andrew Square in April.

But the 1,000-capacity concert hall, earmarked to become the new home of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, is subject to a judicial review being brought by the developers of the next-door St James Centre against Edinburgh City Council.

With the legal hold-ups, which could take years, Impact Scotland is now believed to be seeking out where else the concert hall could be built – as the project, initially due to open in 2023, could be held up in the courts for years.

“Clearly delay causes costs to rise and we are facing an indeterminate delay to the project"

One industry source said: "It's no surprise. The issue is that they are going 20 metres underground in the centre of Edinburgh. That is inevitably going to lead to problems and costly delays."

The news comes as the council, which is being taken to court for approving planning permission, has asked for mediation in an effort to settle the legal challenge.

The authority said it cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

Conservative economy spokesperson on Edinburgh City Council, Cllr John McLellan said: “In such a constrained site with such significant ground condition problems which had already been identified by the St James people, it should be no surprise when it comes down to planning the practicalities of this project that it’s significantly more difficult than first thought and any time overruns result in cost overruns.

“We saw with the Scottish Parliament that grand designs by visionary architects on difficult sites cost a considerably greater amount than first proposed.”

Keen for the venue to be in the city centre, developers looked at and abandoned options at the Teviot site of the Edinburgh University Students Association and a proposal to extend the Queens Hall.

An Impact Scotland spokesperson said: “As publicised in August, we were revising our costs as part of the pre-construction assessments with our contractor.

“That work is now on pause with the rest of the project while we look at all options available to us during this period of delay caused by the neighbouring St James’ Shopping and Hotel Centre developers petitioning the Courts for a judicial review of the Council’s planning processes. Clearly delay causes costs to rise and we are facing an indeterminate delay to the project.”