A catalogue of problems during repairs to one of Bristol’s multi-storey car parks have seen the costs triple - with the city council now even considering giving up on the project and selling it.
Bristol City Council set aside £2million to repair and refurbish West End Car Park in Jacob’s Wells Road and another multi-storey car park near the city centre in 2019.
A cabinet report from October that year shows consultants estimated it would cost £1 million to repair the West End car park to the council’s satisfaction.
Now a new report seeking an extra £1.4million of taxpayers’ cash for the project shows that the total cost of repairs to the car park will have reached at least £3.2million by the time it reopens in April, triple the original estimate.
The report, due to be decided on by the ruling Labour administration next week, blames the cost blowout on a number of factors - and even raises the option of ditching the project and selling the ‘prime location’ site.
The seven-storey car park dates from 1966 and has spaces for 750 vehicles.
Problems encountered with repair
The problems with the project include that the consultants “underestimated the scale of deterioration”.
Contractors also discovered the car park was not built properly and needed “propping and support” which incurred “substantial” extra costs that were “not expected or budgeted”, the cabinet report says.
And a tenant had to be moved from their unit in the car park due to “unforeseen repairs” to their roof which cost an extra £250,000.
Council officers said the project needed to be better managed, as the rising costs “appear to highlight issues with the project management and accountability process”.
How will the rising costs be funded
“This project has been very challenging and £1.36m of additional capital (which includes a £300,000 contingency) is required to fully complete the West End works and re-open the car park to the general public,” the report says.
“Allocation of the additional funding would enable the project to complete this financial year and allow the car park to reopen from April 2022, generating a net revenue income of circa £1m a year.”
Council officers have recommended taking the extra £1.36million needed from a pot set aside for traffic and roads maintenance.
West End Car Park has been closed since October 2019 when the repairs began.
Every month it is closed costs the council £100,000 in lost parking revenue, according to the report.
The report says most of the work has been completed at a cost of around £2.5million, and another £700,000 of works are still needed, bringing the total cost to £3.2million.
“There is a very strong level of confidence that the latest estimates are sufficient to complete all of the works,” the report says.
Consideration to suspend project and sell
The council is also considering selling the West End car park, according to the report.
“As an alternative to completing the work consideration was given to suspending the project and disposing of the site on the open market,” officers wrote in their report.
“This is still potentially attractive given the prime location of the site and the requirement for the council to generate receipts within the capital programme.
“We will continue to keep this option under review over the next few years and progress it if market conditions are suitable.”
A decision on the report will be made by the city council’s ruling administration next week.