Provost Skene’s House delayed until 2019 as work ‘almost has to start again’

The refurbishment of an Aberdeen city centre landmark has been delayed as the initial cost of the work was underestimated.

Work on Provost Skene’s House “almost has to start again” and the building, which was due to reopen at the end of this year, is not expected to reopen until at least 2019.

The news comes on the same day the Evening Express revealed the refurbishment of Aberdeen Art Galley has been delayed by at least a year.

Aberdeen Art Gallery reopening delayed by a year

 

Councillor Alex Nicoll, the SNP group’s finance spokesman, said the city appears like it is on the “brink of a cultural catastrophe”.

He said: “What we have here is a new Tory finance convener who has been so focused on holding together his feeble coalition with suspended Labour members that he has forgotten to keep an eye on the day job.

“Given that we are now once again engaging external consultants too, you have to wonder whether the next art installation for the city should simply be burning cash.”

A report to city council’s finance, policy and resources committee on December 1 will come forward on options to refurbish Provost Skene’s House, following a condition survey which was carried out.

Finance convener Douglas Lumsden said since the issuing of a bond the council has to be “careful” how it announces financial information and changes to its capital budget.

On Provost Skene’s House, Cllr Lumsden said: “It’s a case of the project almost has to start again.

“The business case has been done now but there are new costs that need to go to committee for approval.

“The costs that were done a few years ago were unrealistic; it was costing up a Hall of Heroes.

“We want to make sure money is spent properly on the building and that we do actually have an attraction that is fit for purpose and that we’re making the most of Provost Skene’s House.”

An artist impression of how the finished Marischal Square development, Provost Skene’s House, could look.

Cllr Lumsden added he would “imagine” the reopening of the historic building would be delayed until early 2019.

He said: “We still have to have the project scoped properly and know exactly what we are going to do.

“There was some money from Muse but if we want to do it right and bring it up to the standard we want it to be, then the council will also have to spend more money.”

A new exhibition is planned for the site which will celebrate the achievements of local figures who over the centuries have made major contributions to science, medicine, arts, entertainment, sport and other fields.

 

Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill said: “I’m sure people will be concerned.

“The Liberal Democrat group’s view is that Provost Skene’s House needs to be reopened as quickly as possible in a proper condition.

“Having been empty for a long time now it has to be brought back up to standard and needs to be returned to being one of the jewels of Aberdeen’s crown.”

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