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Olympic Aquatics Centre could go over budget

The Olympic Delivery Authority has warned that the Zaha Hadid’s 2012 Aquatics Centre could run over budget next year if the project is to be finished on time

The centre will host the competition’s swimming, diving and modern pentathlon events. Its wave-design roof projects out to act as a gateway to the Olympic Park on the path from Stratford and makes it one of the most challenging projects on the site.

The Balfour Beatty-led project was originally estimated to cost £214 million. This had crept up to £250m by May this year, and the figure was revised again this week to £257m.

As part of an update on Olympic Park progress, the ODA said possible increases in cost were because of the complicated nature of the build.

ODA chief executive David Higgins told Construction News: ‘It was always going to be the most challenging part of the project because it’s a complex design and construction.

‘We’ve always known it was tough but the roof was more difficult than we thought. It’s probably the worst site on the park in terms of the contamination, but it will be great when it’s finished.’

Potential cost increases of £31m were also identified in the Park-wide enabling works project, mostly owing to more materials being processed through the on-site soil hospital.

Delivery of the Olympic Park will also be hit by measures in last month’s emergency Budget - including a 2.5 per cent increase in VAT from January, changes to National Insurance payments and an insurance premium tax increase - which bumped up the expected final cost of delivery by £45m.

However, these increases have been mitigated by reductions elsewhere, including £17m on the main stadium, which mean the overall cost fell by £6m to £7.261 billion.

The ODA said other savings came from lower priced procurement on the International Broadcast Centre/Main Press Centre and security for site construction, but stressed that no cuts had been made in the scope of what was being delivered.

Contingency funding of £1.2bn is available, unchanged from three months previously.

Overall, the project remains on track, the ODA said. Minister for sport and Olympics Hugh Robertson said: ‘Around 70 per cent of the construction work is now complete, and it’s on budget and on time.’

But he added: ‘We’re right in the middle of a comprehensive spending review. It’s too early to say what the outcome will be. There’s a fine balance to be achieved.

‘As a government and country we are absolutely committed to delivery on budget and on time, but the Olympics is not exempt from what is happening.’

The ODA reported that it had hit all its milestones for the year to 27 July 2010.

These included structural completion of the stadium - including the roof - with the first seats fitted; the Aquatic Centre structure and roof finished with pools dug out; and completion of the Velodrome structure and roof.

Other targets met include finishing the structure of the IBC, with roof and wall cladding under way, and the MPC structure nearing completion.

All venues are on track to meet scheduled handover dates to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

By 27 July next year, the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, the Velodrome and the handball and basketball arenas are scheduled to be complete and ready for handover.

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