V&A project decisions ‘prevented further budget increases’, director reveals

The team behind the V&A project in Dundee were forced to choose between moving the museum completely off the Tay or watching the budget soar, the project’s director has revealed.

In a letter to Holyrood’s education and culture committee, Philip Long said “saving possibilities” were explored when BAM Construction was appointed the preferred main contractor, The Courier has reported.

However, in order not to further compromise the site — which has already moved from on the river to partially on land — it was decided the budget would need to increase from £45 million to more than £80m.

Mr Long wrote: “Significant savings on the current design could be made principally only from the relocation of the building completely on land.

“In the early stages of the project’s development there had been a desire to construct the V&A Dundee completely over the River Tay itself.

“As the detailed building design was developed, this ambition presented a very significant risk.”

Dundee Waterfront - future - artist impression

He added: “Thus, while the DDL (Dundee Design Limited) board supported the diligence of the process undertaken subsequent to the receipt of the April 2014 tenders, its view was that further relocation of the building and the consequent impact on its quality and setting would be a serious compromise.

“In addition, the associated detailed design time and fees associated with the proposed value engineering would result in considerable further delays to the project start, and in diminishing financial returns on any savings anticipated.

“The decision taken at the DDL board of 3 November 2014 was therefore to press ahead with the tender design and its associated cost, and put in place a new programme and funding solution that would achieve this.”

Committee members had asked DDL, Dundee City Council and the Scottish Government to send in details of funding arrangements and timescales for the project.

In the local authority’s correspondence, chief executive David Martin said former Rangers director John McClelland, who is conducting an investigation into the overspend, has been asked to publish his findings “as soon as is reasonably possible”.

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