Northern Ireland

Belfast's MAC exterior repairs set to cost £600,000

The exterior of the MAC in Belfast
Image caption The MAC will remain open while the repair work is carried out, management say

Repair work on the exterior of the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) in Belfast is set to cost about £600,000.

Scaffolding will be erected at the building on Monday in preparation for the work to begin.

Problems with the basalt cladding were first noticed at the end of 2014, and consultants were appointed to address the problem.

The BBC understands the consultants have recommended that the existing cladding be removed and replaced.

Protect

The MAC hopes the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) will cover the cost of the work, and a business case has been submitted to the department.

The building opened in 2012 at cost more than £17m, but netting had to be put on the exterior to prevent risk to pedestrians and users of the arts venue in Belfast's cathedral quarter.

Image caption Problems with the building's basalt cladding were first noticed at the end of 2014

The MAC's management hope the forthcoming work will protect against any further damage and provide a solution to the problem.

Joe O'Neill, the chairman of the MAC, said that the venue would remain open while the work takes place.

"This work is likely to take some months and the erection of the scaffolding now will protect the building against any further damage which may happen, for example, in the event of extreme weather conditions," he said.

Apologise

"What goes on inside the MAC will not be affected and we will remain open as usual for visitors.

"We do apologise for any inconvenience caused during our facelift but it is still business as usual."

Management at the MAC also said there were legal issues being explored that relate to liability but they could not comment further on those.

A DCAL spokesperson said: "Once appropriate procurement has been secured the facade stone will be moved and replaced.

"The department will consider the business case for the associated costs in the context of other financial pressures and the resources available."

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