Piece Hall delays to be scrutinised by councillors

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The overspend, revised construction timescale and delay of the opening of the Piece Hall development will be scrutinised by Calderdale councillors this week.

Calderdale Council’s Use of Resources Scrutiny Panel will meet tonight (Wednesday) to review progress on the Piece Hall project.

In a report that will go before the panel, it reveals more problems that have arisen adding additional weeks to the construction.

The report states: “The Piece Hall is opening later than originally planned because, typical of a Grade I listed Georgian building, there are no detailed historic drawings for the design and construction teams to use.

“Peculiarities have been revealed only when teams have been working on the ground, meaning plans have had to be adapted and flexible.

“The most recent example of this is the discovery, during the last three metres of excavation below ground, of a dry stone wall constructed as foundations - an inadequate structure for the 21st century.

“This needed to be strengthened, which has added up to eight weeks to the construction programme. We also had two discoveries of asbestos in the later stages of the building work, which has added additional weeks to the construction programme.”

The report also reveals that there are likely to be additional costs to ‘complete the transformation to the standard and quality which you would expect in a Grade I listed building’.

Council chiefs say that these costs are subject to negotiation with the contractor and therefore are commercially sensitive.

A report will be prepared for Council on the financial position once these negotiations have been completed.

The conservation and transformation programme at the Piece Hall is being carried out by Graham Construction with funding from Calderdale Council and a significant investment of £7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project has also received additional support from The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Wolfson Foundation.

The Council say the first important milestone to be achieved is the completion of the construction work by Graham Construction, which is expected to be early this year.

There will then be a process that will see the handover of the Piece Hall from the Council to The Piece Hall Trust.

This will be followed by a 16 - 18 week period in which the new Heritage Centre, retail units, cafés, bars and restaurants will be fitted out before being ready to open to the public.

The Chair of the Use of Resources Scrutiny Panel, Coun Mike Payne, said: “The Piece Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in Yorkshire and there is much anticipation for the completion of the transformation work currently taking place.

“The Panel is keen to hear how the project is progressing and learn more about the challenges faced during the course of the development which have resulted in delays and overspend.”

The meeting will be held at 6pm on Wednesday January 11, at Halifax Town Hall.