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Claims of uncontrollable Supreme Court costs denied

The government's Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has issued an angry denial to reports that costs on the Supreme Court project are escalating out of control.

National newspaper articles published over the weekend claimed that the Feilden and Mawson scheme to transform the Grade II*-listed Middlesex Guildhall on Parliament Square had bust the £30 million budget and would soon hit £40 million.

But a spokesman for the DCA told the AJ that this was 'nonsense' and that 'all that had happened' was the figure had been revalued to take inflation into account.

The scheme, which has not had the smoothest route through planning, hit the headlines two weeks ago when it emerged that Norman Foster had decided against continuing to work on the scheme ( Foster abandons supreme court).

The DCA, which claimed Foster's decision to walk away would not damage the scheme, also insisted claims of cost hikes were 'overblown'.

'The overall capital construction cost for the UK Supreme Court remains as described in the Written Ministerial Statement delivered on 14 December 2004 (that is, £30 million at 2004 prices),' the DCA said in a statement.

'These costs have been adjusted for inflation and are now £35.3 million. In addition to these construction costs there will be a number of associated costs.

'Westminster City Council is currently considering a local planning application which it is expected to reach a decision on over the summer recess.

'We do not yet know if this decision will have an impact on the costs. Therefore when the application has been decided we will be in a position to announce the overall estimated costs,' the statement concluded.

by Ed Dorrell

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