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Contractors steered clear of Turner gallery tender


KENT COUNTY Council (KCC) revealed this week that it was forced to retender the contract for its doomed Turner Contemporary art gallery, after receiving only two expressions of interest. As a result client KCC had to re-tender the project as a two stage contract to attract more competition.

Even then it failed to attract more than three bids.

Earlier this month Kent pulled the plug on the project after costs escalated from £17.6M to £48M (News last week).

The gallery structure was to be a three-storey steel clad, steel framed building located in the sea off the coast of Margate.

The original concept was to build the entire structure off site and . at it by barge to Margate.

KCC cabinet member responsible for the art gallery Mike Hill told NCE that he wrote to hundreds of . ms to attract more competition.

'But they all felt that there was a lot more, comparatively straightforward, work around, ' he said.

The project could have been driven forward if there had been more hunger in the market, ' said Hill, a civil engineer.

The two stage contract included a feasibility stage to see if the work could be done within the existing £29.5M budget.

This stage was developed to appease nervous contractors who felt there would be too much work involved in producing a tender for such a non-standard project.

Contractor Nuttall with consultant Scott Wilson was eventually awarded the contract in July last year.

But earlier this month, Nuttall's initial feasibility report threw up two key issues following its analysis of the original Whitbybird structural design.

One was that the contractor felt the thickness of steel cladding needed to be increased to incorporate a sacri. cial layer.

This would be allowed to corrode in the marine environment.

The other was that Nuttall felt extensive temporary works would be needed to support the pre-assembled structure in transit.

See cover story, page 16

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