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First estimates to blame for MI6 HQ cost discrepancy

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Terry Farrell has questioned Parliament's findings of mounting costs on his famous MI6 building and insisted it came in under budget by nearly a tenth.

The distinctive block, which was designed and fitted out by the architect between 1989 and 1992, was up to 9 per cent under budget, he said. But it may have suffered from changing budgets at the initial and detail brief stages, he added.

Figures quoted from the Parliamentary report that development and fit- out costs shot from £22 million in 1987 to a final figure of £81 million were confusing, he said. 'I don't understand the budget and costs; they don't seem to add up. You have not been able to buy a 40,000m2 building for the figure they are quoting since 1965.'

Farrell said his practice had lost out by coming in under budget. 'Unlike Charing Cross Station which was on a fixed fee from the start and did go up for additions, the building on Vauxhall Cross was done on a percentage of the final figure. When it came under budget by around 9 per cent we had a 9 per cent loss of fees.'

He wouldn't give costs because of the secret nature of the project, but said the problem over fluctuations may lie with government methods. 'I think it is all about government first estimates. They say they want to do it for this price before writing a full brief.'

His MI6 building came under the spotlight in Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee's annual report last week. It echoed unpublished findings by the National Audit Office that the project suffered from 'early failure and subsequent delay in recognising the need for tight controls over non-fixed priced additional items.'

Copies of the report can be obtained from hmso, London for £8.15. Contact the Publications Centre, tel 0870 600 522.

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