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Rogers library costs 'may double'

The Richard Rogers Partnership's (RRP) proposals for a new Central Library in Birmingham are on the verge of being dropped amid drastic cost warnings.

The city council's new Conservative and Liberal Democrat leadership has claimed the scheme - originally estimated at £150 million - could now hit the £300 million mark.

The Tory cabinet member for regeneration, Ken Hardeman, has told the AJ that he would await the outcome of an inquiry into the project before a formal announcement, but warned that the 'outlook is very bleak'.

He said the council's new leadership had looked to learn lessons from other, similar, projects and had been particularly worried by the Scottish Parliament debacle. 'If someone offered us £350 million on a plate to build the Rogers library then we would be delighted, but it seems extremely unlikely, ' said Hardeman.

Hardeman warned that the original £150 million estimate had failed to include fitting out the scheme, and 'with inflation and other unexpected costs we could easily see the original price-tag double'.

Although insisting that the scheme was unlikely to go ahead, the councillor said he had scheduled a meeting with Rogers to discuss 'potential income streams'.

'But I cannot see where we will get this kind of money from, ' he added. 'I also have plans to meet John Madin, the architect of the existing Central Library, who claims that to refurbish it would be much cheaper.

'The Rogers library is only a small part of the massive regeneration programme that is happening in the Eastside area of the city and we are keen to avoid delays that might be triggered by the project, ' he said.

Prior to coming to power, the council's Tory group made no secret of its concerns about the proposed library development, warning not only about costs but also about its Modernist design.

The party also claimed it would introduce a policy whereby developers would be forced to draw up more than one proposal for each site and then put the alternatives to a public vote.

At the time of going to press, RRP was unavailable for comment.

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