Eden bought the building for £1m in 2020. Credit: via Freshfield

Nasty surprises impact Eden Council’s office revamp 

The discovery of asbestos and compromised concrete at Penrith’s Voreda House, as well as inflationary rises, have seen the cost of the job increase by £1.4m. 

Last year, the council approved a budget of £4.1m to overhaul Voreda House to create a modern, sustainable office that will be one of three anchor sites for the soon-to-be-established Westmorland & Furness Authority. 

During the project, being carried out by Collinson Construction, asbestos has been discovered both in the building and in the foundations. The need to remove the harmful material has resulted in increased costs. 

In addition, the concrete core of the building has been found to have defects and requires remediation in the form of steel reinforcements. 

These discoveries have pushed the project completion date back to March 2023. Collinson had previously expected to hand over the building before the end of the year. 

Meanwhile, the cost of construction materials and labour has added an extra £800,000 to the project budget, according to a report to Eden Council’s cabinet. 

“The nature and impact of the construction issues, and the associated mitigating measures, combined with the unprecedented construction market inflation levels, have resulted in costs that have substantially exceeded the predicted budget level,” the report said. 

Eden is seeking cabinet approval to increase the budget by £1.4m next week. 

The council does not expect any more increases to the budget.

“Given the contract programme position, the in-depth analysis undertaken by the project team quantity surveyor and the contractor supply chain, the estimated increase should not require any further revision,” the report said.

Voreda House was formerly an NHS building and was purchased by Eden Council in July 2020 for £1m. 

Eden’s office is not the only council project impacted by rising inflation.

Authorities across the North West are revisiting their major projects pipeline and adjusting accordingly. Last month, Knowsley Council paused the creation of a new cinema in Kirkby, while Salford City Council has put its Pendleton Leisure Centre scheme on the back burner.

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