Manchester arts centre running £100m over original budget

The Laing O’Rourke project has been dogged by problems and cost overruns but is now on track to complete in March 2023 providing it can get the extra cash injection.

The 143,000 sq ft arts project is now anticipated to cost £211m, up from the £131m budget when Laing O’Rourke signed its construction contract in 2018 and almost double the original £112m price tag when the council set the original budget in 2015.

This original budget figure was based on benchmark costs to secure the government funding package. This was prior to any detailed site investigations or design work and proved to be inadequate to fund a project of this complexity and scale.

Designed by world-leading practice Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Factory International will feature a 1,600-seat theatre and a 5,000-capacity warehouse space for performances and installations.

The council report due to be considered by Manchester City Council executive on 19 October said the project has faced an extremely challenging wider environment with exceptional levels of inflation, workforce shortages and supply chain disruption exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

These factors continue to significantly impact on the construction and fit-out costs for the building.

It said that value engineering without compromising the vision for the building, tight cost control and efficiency savings have prevented costs from escalating further.

Cllr Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Factory International will be an incredible asset for Manchester.

“It’s an audacious project and with that comes challenges, especially when set against a volatile economic backdrop, but the ongoing benefits for many years to come will far outweigh the one-off cost. We must not lose sight of that.”

 

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