The redevelopment of the fire-damaged Derby Assembly Rooms is set to be halted after estimated costs for the project increased by £6 million.
The Conservative-led Derby Council approved the £24 million redevelopment of the venue in December 2018 that was due to be completed by autumn this year.
However, a statement from the council said that despite receiving “constant reassurance” from consultants that the project could be delivered within the budget, predicted costs have now risen to £30 million.
On January 23, the council’s major projects board will be presented with a report that sets out the increase in costs.
Leader of Derby City Council Chris Poulter said: “In considering what is best for the public purse, if the latest assessment is robust and the project will now cost more than £30 million, it calls into question the sustainability and viability of the business case for a renewed Assembly Rooms.
“This, coupled with emerging risks highlighted through the council’s robust governance processes, means we feel it’s time to make the decision to stop the project, take stock and assess whether the development still offers Derby taxpayers the best possible value for money.”
Poulter added: “Practically, this would mean that further work to the building will stop. We will conduct an in-depth evaluation of this new information and the projected costs against the agreed £24 million maximum budget, to thoroughly scrutinise the reasons for these increased costs and inform our consideration of the appropriate next steps and our options going forward.”
Derby Assembly rooms was badly damaged in a fire in 2014. In 2018, Derby Council, which was Labour-led at the time, announced plans to replace the Assembly Rooms with a new £44 million venue.
However the council became Conservative-led in May that year, with the new leadership announcing the plans to refurbish the venue instead of replacing it with a new building.
A statement from Derby Arts and Theatre Association, which represents amateur theatre and music groups in the area, said: “Within the last month, we have heard from Derby City Council that both the Assembly Rooms and the Guildhall will now be closed for an indefinite period, leaving the Market Place area bereft of entertainment venues other than Quad.
“Many amateur theatre and music companies are facing severe disruption, audience drop-off and potential closure. For the sake of the city’s reputation and its economic and social well-being, it’s time for the political squabbling to end and effective civic leadership to begin.”
The statement added: “Our association believes that part of the solution must be some sort of temporary arrangement.”