The cost of the Upper Orwell Crossings, won by Foster + Partners following a highly controversial RIBA competition, has jumped by more than 40 per cent to £139 million, the local council has admitted
In a statement, Suffolk County Council said the new figure had emerged following an independent report into projected costs carried out on its behalf by engineer Jacobs.
While the report itself did not consider procurement costs, the local authority said that the process of appointing the architect had ‘incurred additional cost’ as had a number of design changes.
However, despite repeated requests by the AJ, the council refused to explain its claim about the architectural procurement or to say how much this element had cost against what was predicted.
The council’s leader, Matthew Hicks, also turned down repeated requests for an interview.
In a lengthy investigation published in April, the AJ revealed details of the highly irregular RIBA competition which Foster + Partners won, including the fact that the practice triumphed following a last-minute reduction in its fee bid, which should not have been allowed under the rules.
At that point, the project was predicted to cost just under £97 million, of which £77 million has been secured from the government. Cash-strapped Suffolk County Council now says it will do ‘everything it can’ to find the additional cash required and will make a decision on how to proceed by December.
The bridge project had been on hold while Jacobs carried out its review.
Council leader Matthew Hicks said the Conservative-run authority would be talking to all ‘significant bodies’ to explore funding options, including the Department for Transport, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, Ipswich Borough Council, the port and ‘anyone we can think of’.
The Jacobs report also suggested several ways of making savings, including value engineering.
The Upper Orwell Crossings project includes three elements: a major road bridge, a smaller vehicle bridge and a new pedestrian and cycle crossing.
Foster + Partners declined to comment. The RIBA has been contacted for comment.