Tayside and Central Scotland

V&A at Dundee price tag almost doubles to £80m

V&A render Image copyright V&A Dundee
Image caption Project leaders said the "unique building" came with "unique challenges"

The cost of Dundee's branch of the V&A museum has almost doubled to £80m, it has emerged.

Work on the design museum could begin in March if approval is given by the city council's policy and resources committee.

On that timetable, the museum would be ready to open by June 2018.

The cost of the project had previously been estimated at £45m, and the museum had been expected to open its doors by 2017.

The authority has been in tender negotiations with BAM Construction for several months, and the two have now agreed a fixed price of £76.16m for the construction of the building.

Plans which will go before councillors include seeking £22m of extra funding from the Scottish government, as well as £4.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £6.6m from private fundraising.

The remaining sum of £6.5m would be drawn from the council's capital budget for 2015-18, which bosses insist could be done without impacting on revenue spending or council services.

Image copyright V&A Dundee
Image caption It is estimated 270,000 people could visit the museum every year

Project leaders characterised the outlay as an "investment" in the city, both culturally and economically.

They estimate building works on the museum would directly generate 51 full-time jobs, along with 361 more indirectly, rising to 628 in the years after the museum opens.

There would also be an estimated economic boost to the city of £11.6m every year, with 270,000 visitors expected to head to the museum annually.

'Unique challenges'

City council development director Mike Galloway said substantial inflation in the building industry had taken project leaders by surprise.

Physical requirements of the project, including the casting of the building's shell and the cladding on its exterior, also proved much more expensive than originally projected.

Mr Galloway said: "The building is structurally formed with a concrete shell which is cast on site.

"The cost of that process and the work associated with that was much higher than anticipated.

"Prior to going to tender we had consulted with major contractors and sought their advice, so not only was it a surprise to us, it was a surprise to them."

City council leader Ken Guild added that "with a unique building, you get unique challenges".

Image copyright V&A at Dundee
Image caption Bosses said the project would be an "investment" in Dundee

Council chief executive David Martin is to lead a "comprehensive review" of the project to date and how the price had risen so substantially.

Should the project win the approval of the council's policy and resources committee on 26 January, work will quickly get under way at the waterfront site, with a view to opening the museum in summer 2018.

Opening dates as early as 2014 had originally been mooted when the project first took off in 2010, with late 2017 the most recent estimate.

However, the timescale for the project already faces one major impending deadline.

Work needs to start on the ground in March 2015 in order to complete preparatory works in the River Tay before the seal pup season begins in June.

If work has not begun by the end of March, the construction contract would be delayed by at least six months, with a knock-on effect on the museum's opening date and inflation costs to the contractor.

Image copyright V&A at Dundee
Image caption The Scottish government has voiced continuing support for the project

V&A Dundee director Philip Long said the museum promised to be a "world class institution".

He said: "People across Dundee and across Scotland are looking forward immensely to having this, the first purpose-built design museum outside of London in the UK.

"We're putting in place an expert team, and we're already getting people involved in creative opportunities.

"We want the V&A Dundee to do what every good museum does - to educate and inspire, and we're achieving some of that already through our programmes."

Image copyright Dundee Waterfront
Image caption The new museum would form the centrepiece of Dundee's £1bn waterfront regeneration project

A total of £39.9m of capital funding has so far been secured for the project, including £15m from the Scottish government.

The extra £22m of funding from the government would take the form of a Growth Accelerator Model fund for the waterfront project as a whole.

This model would see investment money contributed annually by the government, on the condition of various targets such as job creation being met.

A spokesman said the Scottish government remained fully committed to the project.

He said: "The V&A Dundee will be an iconic statement at the heart of the Dundee Waterfront development.

"The signature building will create local jobs and contribute significantly to the regeneration of the city and its waterfront, giving the city and Scotland a world-class design museum and visitor attraction.

"The Scottish government is firmly committed to supporting this important project.

"All partners remain committed to working together to ensure the delivery, success and long-term sustainability of the project."

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