The opening of Grimshaw's blighted Bath Spa has been suspended indefinitely as the project descends into legal wrangling.
Bath council has taken out a legal injunction against contractor Mowlem following problems with the paint in the spa pools, while Mowlem continues to insist that Grimshaw's specification was to blame.
The project, to create a new spa quarter in historic Bath, has already suffered a series of substantial delays and cost overruns. It was originally due to open last autumn, with initial costs set at £19 million. After a number of missed completion dates and rows between contractor and design team over responsibility, the current budget has now reached £26 million (AJ 24.4.03/19.6.03).
And until this latest dispute is settled, it will be impossible to schedule a new opening date, Bath council said this week.
Bath claims Mowlem failed to carry out Grimshaw's instruction to remove the faulty paint for inspection and testing. And on 5 September it warned the firm that another contractor would be brought in to see through the repairs if the work was not completed within the week.
'Regrettably, Mowlem continued to fail to take any action to implement these works and, at the expiry of the seven days, the council employed an alternative contractor to carry out the works instructed by the architect, ' the council said in a statement. 'Mowlem then denied access to the spa site for the alternative contractor.' And last Thursday Bath started injunction proceedings to gain access to the site.
However, Mowlem has hit back, stating it 'refutes categorically' that it is responsible for the faulty paint and is 'in no doubt that the problem is with the design and specification, not our workmanship'.
'We are very frustrated at the reluctance of Bath and North East Somerset and Grimshaw to address these issues properly in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract, ' the firm said in its own statement. 'We will strenuously resist any injunction served.'
Grimshaw refused to comment.