Styles & Wood’s £38m deal to fit out the India Buildings, due to be home to HMRC’s 270,000 sq ft Liverpool office, has been terminated following a series of delays.
The contractor was picked in February last year for the job, which includes a major refurbishment of the grade two-listed building to create a ‘super-centre’ for HMRC’s operations in the region.
However, following a series of delays including the discovery of nearly 400 tonnes of asbestos and additional works that have required specialist planning permission, the company has had its contract terminated, with development manager Shelborn now searching for a replacement contractor.
Shelborn sold the building to Legal & General for £125m in 2017 in the largest property transaction in the history of Liverpool.
In a statement, Styles & Wood has confirmed it is no longer working on the job and that it is exploring the next steps over the termination, which it has argued is “wrongful”.
A Styles & Wood spokesperson said: “There have been significant issues giving rise to delays on India Buildings, namely the discovery of large volumes of asbestos and extensive additional ceiling works requiring specialist heritage planning permission.
“A dispute has arisen, and Styles & Wood can confirm it is no longer working on the project. We consider the termination of our contract to be wrongful and we’re currently taking advice on next steps. Styles & Wood is being supported by specialist legal and expert advisors in this respect.
“Styles & Wood was deeply committed to delivering this project. We are very disappointed that this decision has been taken. We have been working closely with all parties to overcome the issues that have been causing delays to the programme as we are very experienced in the renovation of heritage buildings and the challenges in restoring them.
“We very much hope that the renovation of this beautiful building is not put at risk by this action and that an equally experienced contractor is appointed to complete the project to the standard and timescale required.”
Once the redevelopment is complete, HMRC staff are due to decant out of Graeme House, Raglan House, Imperial Court in Liverpool, and The Triad in Bootle.
HMRC and L&G have insisted the office move will still go ahead, despite the delays to the project.
The job is the second major scheme by Styles & Wood to be delayed; Place North West revealed in July this year the contractor had been replaced by Russells on Hyphen, an office cut-and-carve for developer Boultbee Brooks on Manchester’s Mosley Street. The 52,000 sq ft office is due to be home to WeWork.