By Julia Twomlow, CEO and artistic director, Rothesay Pavilion
I will use this column to answer questions on the building project and funding at Rothesay Pavilion.
Wasn’t it due to open in 2017? Why is it taking two years longer?!
When the original proposal was put together by the council, nearly five years ago, the Pavilion was still in full swing with weddings, meetings and events happening every week.
It wasn’t possible to reveal the extent of the damage to the building without pulling down ceilings and walls to see what was going on. That would have compromised public safety in using the building. With asbestos present, it was essential to wait until the building was closed to carry out a full investigation.
The Pavilion closed its doors to the public in September 2015 and was vacated a month later. It was only then that it was possible to see the sheer size of the undertaking and what it would cost.
At this point a sensible decision was taken to split the work into two phases. The first ‘enabling’ phase took place in 2016 and was mainly internal works, including investigative works, asbestos removal, protection of historic features and specialist concrete repairs throughout the whole building.
The funding gap also needed to be filled and that took several months – going back to existing funders for additional support and finding new funders to join the table.
On completion of phase one, the tendering process commenced for phase two, which is the main contract. This is a hugely complicated piece of work as it involves the sympathetic restoration and refurbishment of a Grade A listed building, and the procurement exercise is governed by public procurement regulations, all of which meant that it took several months from the publication of the Contract Notice to the point that we are at now, where the main contract will be awarded within the next couple of weeks.
The tenders went out in February 2017 to five contractors who had previously expressed an interest, but only four were returned in March, and all were considerably over the tender estimates.
A period of ‘value engineering’ followed, where we were tasked with trying to reduce costs without diluting those elements of the building that gave it its’ ‘importance’.
The costs were reduced by over £1m through this process. The revised tender documents were reissued shortly after and of the four contractors, just two returned bids.
On the basis of these two bids, in September 2017, the funders agreed the final piece in the funding jigsaw and granted the project ‘permission to start’ in early November.
This means that the contract can now be awarded to the successful bidder in time for works to start on site before Christmas.