Gallery delay not writing on the wall

Plans and artist illustrations of the proposed development of the Scottish National Gallery. Picture: Contributed
Plans and artist illustrations of the proposed development of the Scottish National Gallery. Picture: Contributed
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You would be forgiven a sense of deja vu as plans for a major public construction project in the Capital hit the wall at the 11th hour, just days before building work was due to get under way.

Edinburgh’s controversial tram project was eventually delivered £375 million over-budget and three years later than promised, while the final bill for the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood, which was also three years late, came in at 10 times its estimated cost.

So alarm bells will be ringing at the news that the National Galleries of Scotland’s plans for its home on the Mound, which has a budget of £16.8 million, has been put on hold due to concerns over costs.

But there is no need for panic at this stage - far from it. What marks this project out from the others is the response of those in charge. Their first action is to pause and look at ways of reining in costs where possible in order to keep the overall budget in check.

If only the same thing had happened at Holyrood and with the trams, we might not have ended up with the disasters that unfolded. This will hopefully ensure that project managers can maximise the benefit to the public from the development, which aims to improve and expand an under-used exhibition space at the landmark gallery, while keeping a tight hold on the purse strings.

Yes, it feels like we’ve been here before, but let’s be patient. It’s hoped construction on the rejigged proposal may be able to start before the end of this year.

The end result is predicted see an increase in visitors to the site and more of Scotland’s national treasures on display. That seems like something worth waiting for.