£330m Manchester Town Hall project faces two-year delay, cost rise
Unforeseen issues with the building, policy changes, hyperinflation of construction materials, and the Covid-19 pandemic have had a £67m impact on the largescale refurbishment of the grade one-listed structure, according to the city council.
Originally set to complete in July 2024, the Manchester Town Hall renovation could now take until summer 2026 – although the city council stated that the project team, which includes main contractor Lendlease, was working to shorten that possible timescale.
Work on Manchester Town Hall began on site in 2020. The project to repair and upgrade the 1877 building had a budget of £328m, of which £306m was set as capital expenditure for construction.
That number is going to increase by at least £29m later this year, as the city council executive is being asked to approve that amount as additional interim funding at its July meeting. This additional £29m will go towards helping complete a “key part of the construction phase”, according to a city council press release.
These funds would come from borrowing and not the city council’s service budgets.
Additional funding requests and a firmed-up completion date are expected to be announced in January, when more work has been done on the roof and, ideally, most of the negative discoveries have been made.
So far, these types of discoveries have included the realisation that the building’s Victorian cast iron drainpipes and gutters were either corroded, cracked, or split and thus not fit for purpose.
Adding to delays have also been changes in fire safety standards, which now require that materials used in the project undergo laboratory tests or evaluation by an independent fire engineer to ascertain their fire performance. According to the council, there is currently a backlog for these kinds of tests.
Despite the pushed-back completion date, the city council reported that the construction phase of the Town Hall restoration is 60% finished. The local authority also pointed out the benefits of the project, including that 57% of the construction spend has been with Manchester businesses and 47% of those working on the project live within the city.
The city council understands people will be frustrated by the increase in costs and further delay.
“Nobody is pretending this has been easy, but the end result will be something truly special, a source of pride and a remarkable asset for Manchester,” said deputy council leader Cllr Luthfur Rahman.
Manchester Town Hall’s project team includes architect Purcell, quantity surveyor Faithful + Gould, multi-disciplinary engineering and design consultant Arup, landscape architect, Planit-IE, structural engineer Ramboll, and project manager Mace.
Place North West was given a tour of the Town Hall project in March. Read our story on how the project stood back then and the pressure the team felt to get the job done right. You can also watch the video below for a snapshot of the project.