Total cost of Manchester's new flagship arts centre now stands at £130m
The council press release was titled: 'Latest on world-leading cultural building The Factory outlined'. It probably should have read: 'We're running years behind and it's going to cost another £19m... sorry, please don't be mad'.
A report going in front of councillors this month will propose that Manchester City Council’s contribution to the construction of The Factory - the new 5000-capacity arts centre to be built at Old Granada Studios (now called St John's) - is increased by a further £18.97m, taking the council's total contribution to £40.57m.
Nearly all of the associated costs can be traced back to design flaws and delays
The cost of the project now stands at around £130m following a number of setbacks which resulted in reworked proposals by architects OMA and delayed planning approval.
First unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in 2014, the Factory had originally been pencilled to open by 2019. However, the delays mean construction works are now not expected to get underway until well into 2019, with an official opening date still unconfirmed.
So where is all the money coming from?
The majority (£78m) is coming from the Treasury, with an additional £7m in Lottery funding and another £5m through fundraising. The council say the extra £18.97m, to add to their original £21.6m, will be raised by selling off council-owned land which has "significantly increased in value" since the project began, and will not impact other council budgets.
Among the reasons given for the increased costs are higher rates of construction inflation (£5.5m), acoustic improvements (£4.5m), additional design team fees (£3.7m) and general delays to construction (£3m).
There is nothing like The Factory anywhere in Europe, let alone the UK... such projects do not come without complex challenges
Putting a positive spin on things, the council state the team have learnt from the mistakes of "major cultural construction schemes elsewhere, where significant overspends have been identified midway through construction".
They say: "The Factory team has carried out a robust review of all elements of the building to ensure that any potential issues are identified and tackled now – at the design stage – rather than further down the line when any changes would be more costly."
As true as that might be, the council's ability to conjure up almost £20m in funds seemingly out of nowhere will no doubt irk those who have been hit by cuts elsewhere - particularly when nearly all of the associated costs can be traced back to design flaws and construction delays.
According to the report, the Factory will become "one of the largest purpose-built cultural buildings in the world", attracting up to 850,000 visitors a year and creating 1,500 jobs, delivering a £1.1bn boost to the city's economy over a decade.
Commenting on the new budget proposals, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said: “There is nothing like The Factory anywhere in Europe, let alone the UK and its game-changing impact for Manchester and the North of England cannot be overstated.
“Compromising on The Factory’s quality and ambition would have undermined its uniqueness, its purpose and the benefits it will bring.
“It’s a bold and ambitious undertaking and such projects do not come without complex challenges which we have tackled head on now so we can be confident going forwards."
The council will be asked to wave through the additional costs when it meets on November 28th.