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Bovis Lend Lease misses deadline on Manchester Civil Justice Centre

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Rumours of contractual in-fighting and ongoing design changes have caused Bovis Lend Lease to miss the hand-over deadline for Denton Corker Marshall's prestigious Manchester Civil Justice Centre.

The Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has confirmed that the high-profile £113 million scheme has already missed its January deadline and gave no indication of when the building would finally open.

The DCA is now holding urgent talks with Bovis Lend Lease to resolve issues but would not say whether a new completion date has been agreed.

A source close to the project said the reason for the delay was continual design changes to the 16-storey structure. He insisted that the DCA made a series of significant design amendments during construction but still expected the project to be delivered on time.

However, a DCA spokesman said January's freak 99mph winds, which loosened panelling on the building's distinctive cantilevered box-structure, had delayed completion. But he refused to comment on 'other details'.

Bovis Lend Lease's woes have been compounded by ongoing disputes with sub-contractors, according to the source: 'Bovis said until recently it would finish in January and has now said it will be much later.'

He continued: 'It hoped to get a lot done but has got problems with the sub-contractors finishing the job. Bovis Lend Lease and its sub-contractors are arguing about previous claims. It's the usual problem, the subcontractors are saying, 'You settle the claims and we will finish the job'.'

Manchester Civil Justice Centre is the largest court complex to be built in Britain since the historic Courts of Justice in London. The 34,000m2 complex will house 47 courtrooms plus four tribunal courts, 75 consultation rooms, and office and support space.

Bovis Lend Lease refused to comment on sub-contractor disputes or design changes. A spokeswoman added: 'Practical completion remains on track for spring 2007 despite some very wet and windy weather during the latter half of 2006. Fit-out of the building is fully under way to meet the court services' programme to hold the first court hearings in the summer.'

Denton Corker Marshall also declined to comment, insisting the delay was a matter between Bovis Lend Lease and the DCA.

by Clive Walker

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