A DAMNING report into the soaring cost of Dundee’s V&A museum has found there was “little prospect” of being kept to its original budget.
An independent inquiry into the ballooning bill for the new waterfront attraction found there was a “mismatch” between the original budget for the project and its “elite” design.
John McLelland, the former Rangers Football Club chairman called in to investigate the cost increase, found there was no full-time project manager with construction experience in place when key decisions were taken.
And he criticised the city council for not providing enough scrutiny of the project, the cost of which soared dramatically from £45 million to £80 million in January of this year.
He said the project was not integrated into the council’s “normal work”, even though it took official ownership of the project more than four years ago, with a failure to appoint a “single accountable project manager” and ambiguity about responsibility.
The UK’s only design museum outside London has been the responsibility of a company created by the city council, Dundee’s universities, Scottish Enterprise and the V&A in London for the last five years. However it is now three years behind schedule and not due to open until 2018.
In his own report on the findings, council chief executive David Martin said initial project estimates were “not sufficiently robust” to address the “unique challenges” of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s designs.
He added: “As the design process moved forward, it became apparent the technical requirements and construction method involved would place real pressure on the budget.”
The museum had an original price tag of £27m when Mr Kuma won an international design contest to create the building, the centrepiece of the city’s £1 billion waterfront regeneration. Mr McLelland said the original price tag and the subsequent £45m budget set by the council in 2011 were both “understated” because they did not take into account the “complexity” of the structure.
He said: “This project had, from the beginning, little prospect of being delivered for the original budget due to an accumulation of factors that mitigated against that being achieved.The largest single cause of the increase was an understatement of the original budget.”
Scottish Labour’s culture spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “The warning signs of escalating costs and delays were raised almost as soon as the winning design was announced. These went unheeded.”
Critics warned for years that Mr Kuma’s designs could not be delivered for £45m. It emerged two years ago that plans to have the museum “floating” on the River Tay had been scrapped.
Work finally got underway in March, some eight years after the project was announced, after a rescue package to make up the funding shortfall was agreed.
Mr Martin said: “Since January 2015, steps have been taken to further develop and improve the governance, monitoring, communication and project management arrangements for the project. In light of the review, steps will be taken to provide additional cost and project management expertise.”
Council leader Ken Guild added: “This comprehensive review shows us where lessons need to be learned.”
A spokeswoman for Dundee Design Limited, the company behind the project, said: “We acknowledge the findings and will now work with the council to take forward the recommendations and continue to realise this outstanding building.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The signature building will create local jobs and contribute significantly to the regeneration of Dundee, giving the city and Scotland a world-class design museum and visitor attraction.”