Manchester Town Hall roof work, Manchester City Council, p Manchester City Council

Discoveries made as the Manchester Town Hall roof opened have led to further delays. Credit: via Manchester City Council

£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.

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Expensive as these things always are once you start digging. Worth it though.

By John

Meanwhile they’re still talking about what to do with Parliament whilst it crumbles around them and costs spiral.

At least in Manchester water we’ve grasped the nettle of what to do with our nationally important Grade 1 building and light is at the end of the tunnel. £29m may sound like a lot of money, and it is, but put into context it’s a relatively small hit. Shame about the 2 year delay though.

By Anonymous

There hasn’t been hyperinflation

By We're just Norma men

Increased costs partly due to Brexit. I wonder if those people who voted for Brexit would be happy paying more council tax to fund these higher costs?

By Anonymous

There has been hyper-inflation on many construction materials including steelwork, timber, concrete, plasterboard

By Phil Ingham

Come on Norma man……….whatever you call it everything has gone up and construction costs have gone up massively. And anonymous don’t forget Manchester did not vote for brexit!! But well done Manchester council for digging deep and funding the loving restoration of this astonishing building as you also dug in deep to fund the Factory. MCC gets so much flak on here from people who don’t look beyond the end of their nose

By Why bother

Even with the town hall itself under scaffolding, provided the public realm is delivered soon, a game changer for Manchester. A European piazza of world class standard just on the horizon.

By Adam

Just to state, Brexit has zero (ZERO) to do with current inflation. Anyone who thinks so needs to explain it to the rest of the world and to the pathetic economy that is Germany right now. Manchester’s metropolitan area [did] vote for Brexit as (ironically to many and disbelief for many) did London’s metropolitan area (just not the administrative area that forms less than half of London’s urbanised population. Thank the Home Countries for that one.

One more correction – nowhere has experienced ‘hyper-inflation’ which would make it Weimar Germany or Zimbabwe. This is talk by people that haven’t lives very long and lived only through the very odd (historically speaking) last 15 years or so.

This building will be worth it. What is tragic is what the councils did in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s that led to the city centre fringe areas for several miles out being wastelands or lego houses that just shouldn’t be there.

Good luck Manchester.

By James Whittaker

You wonder if those who voted for Brexit would be willing to pay higher council tax….ooh let me think..I suppose if we take all of the main macro economic factors like inflation, supply chain shutdown, covid generally , construction costs etc , well you work out the bit you want to apportion and I’ll go and ask them. Or we could just be sensible and stop chewing our keyboards. This is a wonderful project, enjoy it when it opens. It will be there long after such nonsense has gone.

By Anonymous

James Whittaker is wrong Manchester ie those who live in this great city had the strongest remain vote in the north west and that is a fact.

By Not so

    Given this conversation, I thought a fact check was in order.
    Manchester did in fact vote to remain (60.4% according to BBC). However, James’ comment was about the Manchester metropolitan area. When taking into account all of the areas in Greater Manchester, it looks like about 55% of GM voters opted to leave. – j

    By Julia Hatmaker

Always Council projects that are so badly cost managed. Alongside the Factory, MCC really need to start getting a grip on things. Dont tell me inflation and unforeseen works were not factored into budgets before proceeding with a £300m development over four years. Must do better.

By Mr Robinson

Thanks Julia this is an important point as this project is funded by the people of Manchester and not the metropolitan region!!! Anyhow hats off to manchester and Mancunians and as always, it’s many others both nationally and internationally who will enjoy and benefit from this outstanding building

By Not so

Really Mr Robinson…….are you serious. These are massive and seriously complicated projects that have been built during covid and at a time of the most serious cost inflation for a generation. Can you name a similar scale project during the same period where the cost hasn’t increased……… you can’t.

By It so

No doubt about it, one of the grandest buildings in the UK and emulates Manchester’s character incredibly well. I wish Albert Sq was longer so you had better vistas.

By Anonymous

£300 Millon for the factory, £500 million for the town hall. The magic money tree is alive and well in Manchester. Why don’t they take a cutting from the tree and grow one that can fund schools, roads and policing?

By Marvin

Who would have guessed publicly funded projects go up in cost?! I have yet to hear a project that’s under budget and completed ahead of schedule.

By Another Manc

The only Metropolitan area which voted to remain other than London in England, was actually Merseyside. Manchester voted overwhelmingly to remain but not GM. The South blame us for Brexit bizarrely but not the Midlands, where Birmingham the only large city in Britain, voted to Leave. The North voted due to educational attainment. The more qualified a town is ,the more they voted to remain. The South despite dishing out untruths about us voted sentimentally, particularly the South West. Yet again prejudice against the North.

By Elephant

Can the council remove some of the scaffolding so at least the finished parts of the building are again visible for the residents and tourists? This is a normal practice in projects like this one and I don’t understand why the whole building has to be covered with scaffolding and hidden from us for another 3 years.

By Johnny

Only £330 m? Pah! Absolute bargain. I’ve spent more on watches and shoes.

By Anonymous

Your article states “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.”

I honestly do not know whether to laugh or cry. After over one hundred years of use in carrying rainwater it was apparently a surprise that the cast iron has rusted and is no longer fit for purpose.

To not include replacement of the rainwater systems in the original scope of works is almost the perfect example of fantasy project management. But now the project managers are in a hurry. If they had planned ahead of time then they would be able to replace the cast iron with lightweight spin aluminium tubing in a colour of their choosing with custom-cast ears and rainwater hoppers and at a very competitive price. Any passerby would not be able to tell the difference from the originals. But now the project managers are playing catch-up and are over a barrel. I am reminded of Homer Simpson.

By Anonymous

when will the next update be last update june

By Anonymous

Where does all this money come from, when some councils face being bankrupt

By Anonymous

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