Work restarts on Wolverhampton's Civic Halls - but they won't open until 2022
The long-delayed revamp of Wolverhampton's Civic Halls has restarted after work was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic - but they will not reopen until 2022.
Council bosses also confirmed that new contractor Willmott Dixon Interiors has now signed a main contract for the project, having previously been working on a pre-construction service delivery agreement.
The Express & Star revealed in June that the cost of the revamp has risen again by £5 million - taking the total bill to more than four times its original budget.
The city council said a "raft of on-site measures" were in place to ensure workers were following safety guidance and would now "continue transforming the Grade II-listed halls into a top-class entertainment venue for audiences to enjoy for generations to come".
The project has been thrown off course by a series of problems since work first started in 2015, including original contractor Shaylor Group going bust last year. The pandemic only added to the woes and sent costs spiralling again.
Opposition councillors have demanded an inquiry into the handling of the project but Civic Centre chiefs say the latest problems were linked to coronavirus and could not have been foreseen.
Economy boss Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “I am delighted to see Willmott Dixon Interiors back on site to continue the crucial restoration and improvement of this much-loved, Grade-II listed 82-year-old venue.
“Covid-19 has had an unprecedented and unavoidable impact on major construction projects nationally and internationally in terms of time and financial cost.
“But, after being hit hard by Covid, regeneration projects like the Civic Halls are even more important to our city’s economic recovery.
“We are creating a truly outstanding entertainment venue, in the heart of the city centre, which will bring in millions of pounds to our local economy and safeguard hundreds of jobs.”
Phil Crowther, Director at Willmott Dixon Interiors, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for construction. The safety of our team remains the highest priority to us which is why we’ve adopted Government-backed safety measures across the site, including social distancing practices.
"Our people and supply chain partners have quickly adapted to the new ways of working and have embraced technology to keep everyone safe.
“It’s great to be fully operational again and bring the project back on track. We’re incredibly passionate about this project and the opportunity it brings to help improve the lives of local people. We can’t wait to deliver a world leading cultural facility that everyone in Wolverhampton can be proud of.”
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