Company sued over 'poor workmanship' at £4m bus station

A MULTI-MILLION-POUND bus station built as part of the development that saw Harvey Nichols open an Edinburgh store is to be the subject of legal action against a construction giant.

Balfour Beatty is being taken to court by Edinburgh city council, amid claims of poor workmanship on the 4 million station, which opened almost nine years ago.

The local authority has been forced to carry out emergency work three times to repair damage following bad weather, the most serious of which saw the terminus closed for more than three weeks.

The station, off St Andrew Square, has been dogged by flooding, faulty roof panels and tiles falling off the walls. The local authority said it had had to deal with three serious incidents since it opened - in 2003, 2007 and 2009.

One city council source told The Scotsman: "A new facility like this should have been much sturdier, even in bad weather.

"The council only leases the bus station, but has had to pay to carry out repairs to ensure it is safe enough to open up for passengers. The final designs and work have simply not been up to scratch."

Another insider said: "A significant six-figure sum of money is involved. The council is simply not in a position to write off a sum like that. It is only right that the taxpayer in Edinburgh is protected."

The previous bus station was closed for more than three years to accommodate building work on the new complex and the neighbouring retail developments. But delays meant it ended up opening six months later than Harvey Nichols.

The bus station was built for the council by Coal Pension Properties, which owns it, the store in St Andrew Square and the nearby Multrees Walk shops.

The city council agreed to loan Coal Pension Properties 1m to get the 50m scheme off the ground. It agreed to a long-term lease of the bus station from the developer, which hired Balfour Beatty to mastermind the construction programme.

Although Harvey Nichols opened on schedule in August 2002, the bus station was not ready until the following February, although the council was blamed for wrangling with bus operators over proposed charges for using the new terminus.

The council yesterday refused to disclose how much it was hoping to recoup from Balfour Beatty.

A spokesman for the local authority said: "We are currently involved in legal proceedings in respect of the bus station, relating to its construction and design.

"As a legal action is ongoing, we cannot comment further."

A spokeswoman for Balfour Beatty, one of the UK's biggest building firms, said: "Due to ongoing discussions with Edinburgh city council, we are unable to comment further on this at this time."

A spokesman for Coal Pension Properties said: "This is a matter between the council and Balfour Beatty."