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Stalled Windermere steamboat plan wastes architects’ time and money

Dozens of architects have been left heavily out of pocket following the collapse of the Windermere Steamboat Project visitor centre in Cumbria

The design contract for the £24.7 million scheme, which was advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in July and due to be awarded in November, had seen expression of interest from some 60 architects.

But the client Lakeland Arts Trust was forced to halt the process due to a lack of funds. OMI director David McCall told the AJ: ‘It would appear the client has sought expressions of interest without having a reasonable degree of certainty on their funding. So a lot of time and effort has been for nothing. The client is not liable in any way and while they may be apologetic they have arguably also acted irresponsibly.’

The practice estimates it spent some £4,000 on costs for the bid.

MBLA Architects director Andy Avery called the process frustrating and another bidder said: ‘The project was always overly ambitious, we’re not surprised it got stopped.’ Among the other entrants were Liverpool’s Studio Three Architects and a combined bid between Hodder Associates and Michael Wilford.

Lakeland Arts Trust development manager Frances Snowden said the scheme is now under review: ‘We are very conscious that the OJEU process is expensive, and we personally got in touch with all those who expressed an interest to let them know about the delay.

‘We are committed to the site. It is likely to go ahead in a phased approach.’

It is understood the Trust could re-tender for architects for a smaller scale, piecemeal development.

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