Edinburgh Council asked to stump up more cash for city centre Dunard Centre concert hall
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Edinburgh Council has been asked to stump up more cash to help with construction of the city’s first purpose-built concert hall in over 100 years.
Officials say they have had “informal conversations” with the charity behind the Dunard Centre development about increased costs of the 1,000-seat city centre venue. Already the local authority has contributed £5 million but was recently “approached to add to its contribution,” a new report revealed.
As work commenced on the site off St Andrew Square in February, council leader Cammy Day said he “couldn’t see” any more money coming from the city’s coffers for the project. He confirmed this week there are “no plans for a further capital contribution at this time,” adding the council “will continue to monitor the project closely as it develops”.
The music venue, expected to open by 2026 and cost at least £75m, will be the biggest built in Edinburgh since the Usher Hall in 1914. As well as being the new home of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra it will host classical, pop, rock, jazz and electronica performances.
The Dunard Centre’s auditorium, located behind the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Dundas House, has been designed by David Chipperfield Architects and Nagata Acoustics, which has previously worked on world-class concert halls in Los Angeles, Paris and Hamburg.
Plans were passed by councillors in late 2021 after being amended to reduce the building’s height, in response to an objection from owners of the St James Quarter shopping centre next door. Work to demolish a 1960s RBS annexe and clear the site has been underway since early this year.
In preparation of the venue’s construction beginning, Impact Scotland, the charity responsible for building and running the Dunard Centre, launched a £15m fundraising campaign to meet unfunded costs. Edinburgh Council’s £5m contribution is not expected to be required within the current financial year, a report to this week’s Finance and Resources Committee said.
However the project is “facing increased costs and the council has been approached to add to its contribution,” it added.
Council officers said at the meeting on Tuesday, November 21, they have had “informal conversations” with Impact about the extra funds being sought and more details would be available in the new year. They added the charity had raised £30m this year alone. Meanwhile, the UK and Scottish governments are each stumping up £10m.
Whether the authority will be in a position to fork out more toward the scheme remains unknown, as it already faces a funding gap of over £50m next year.
Councillor Day said: “As is the case with many projects of this scale, we’re aware of increases in costs. We remain in close dialogue with the project, along with the UK Government, Scottish Government and other key stakeholders.
“We’re aware and remain supportive of the excellent fundraising campaign that is underway, and we await the outcome of commercial negotiations around the project. The council has no plans for a further capital contribution at this time but will continue to monitor the project closely as it develops.”