Fresh controversy has hit Enric Miralles' new Scottish Parliament project - following predictions that the scheme, opposite Holyrood Palace, is more than £60 million over budget. Two newly elected msps - the snp's Margo MacDonald and Liberal Democrat Donald Gorrie - are calling for a review of the site decision which might yet sink Enric Miralles 'upturned boats' scheme. Gorrie calculates that the cost of the project, originally £50 million, is now £111.3 million and rising. This excludes the £11 million spent by the Callaghan government on converting the NeoClassical former Royal High School in 1978, and a traffic scheme proposed by planning consultant Oscar Faber for a road through the city's once sacrosanct Royal Parks.
Critics of First Minister Donald Dewar's solo decision to reject Calton Hill claim the alternative is becoming both an environmental and an economic disaster. 'The lack of forethought in transport planning and civic design has horrific implications for a unesco World Heritage Site' said Terry Levinthal of the city's Cockburn Association.
Leading Scottish commercial-property consultant, John Brown of dtz Debenham Thorpe, believes that even Gorrie's figures are optimistic. 'The only valid comparison with this scheme is Sydney Opera House. The gestation from an idea on a fag packet to completed building is never cheap. Sydney got its signature building in the end, but it came in seven times over budget. I can't see Holyrood being any different.'
msps meanwhile are lining up to praise Simpson & Brown's stylish refit of their temporary venue, the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall on the Mound, and might yet pressurise Dewar and his mandarins to negotiate a permanent arrangement. The First Secretary is determined, above all, not to be seen capitulating on the ultra-symbolic Calton Hill, is said to be giving the idea serious consideration.