Ushering a new era … concert hall's glass wing gets ready to take a bow

A £35 MILLION overhaul of Edinburgh's flagship concert hall is at last set for completion – almost 14 years after a major review into the venue's future was ordered.

The Scotsman can reveal a new glass-covered extension which has been built on to the side of the Usher Hall is set to be unveiled to the public within four weeks.

It is the final stage of a revamp aimed at making it one of the leading concert halls in Europe.

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Staff have moved in to put the finishing touches to the striking new addition to the A-listed building after almost three years of work on site.

Its long-awaited unveiling has been pencilled in for late January/early February.

The Usher Hall has already seen a surge in concert-goers since the 2,800-capacity venue was reopened to the public for events in the autumn.

The new facilities are expected to be ready for a gala show featuring Strictly Come Dancing's Anton du Beke and Erin Boag, and visits from pop, rock and folk acts Bjorn Again, Ronan Keating, Jamie Callum, Rufus Wainwright and Kate Rusby. An official opening concert is planned later this year.

The much-loved hall's revamp project has been dogged by difficulties, including the need to reinforce the old building's foundations, soaring construction costs and the pressures on the council's finances.

Its completion has been delayed twice in the last nine months and is running some four years overdue.

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The extension will house the venue's new caf-bar, corporate hospitality facilities, a new box office, education space, and administration offices.

An initial 10 million overhaul of the venue's main auditorium – carried out after part of the ceiling fell in after a Tony Bennett concert – was completed in 2000 but it had to be scaled back after a 13m bid for National Lottery cash was bungled by council officials.

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By then, planning work was already under way on a second phase, to improve the venue's outdated toilets, cloakrooms, staircases, dressing rooms and backstage facilities, as well as the glass extension.

Early estimates were that phase two would cost in the region of 9m, but a number of hikes have been announced in recent years and it emerged last year that the cost had soared to 25m.

Plans to temporarily open the revamped concert hall for a string of major events last spring had to be shelved because the project was so far behind and hopes of unveiling the glass extension for the 2009 Edinburgh International Festival were dashed by June of last year.

At the time council officials insisted all the work would be done by October, only for the deadline then to be put back again, until well into the new year.

Councillor Deidre Brock, the city's culture leader, added: "We're very excited about the forthcoming launch of the new wing as the remaining fit-out works are nearing completion.

"This brand new feature, boasting a caf-bar, hospitality suites and a new box office, will be a fabulous addition to the world-renowned Usher Hall."