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Edinburgh concerts cancelled as refurb hits unforeseen ground

Contractors were this week expected to put back completion of the £20M refurbishment of Edinburgh’s Usher Hall after running into unforeseen ground conditions.

Work to improve and expand existing facilities began in March last year. Basement excavation work in September revealed that foundations would need to be reinforced to support the new glass wing.

Structural engineers also ordered deeper piles to protect the integrity of the building following the discovery of unexpected rock formations.

The project was adapted to take account of the situation, including dropping plans for structural changes to the north side of the building. But, principal contractor Heery and project manager Lend Lease now say that geological conditions and building structure issues are causing more delays.

Work will stop temporarily for the 2008 Edinburgh International Festival as it did in 2007, but the delays have forced the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to switch venues for its autumn season. The Royal Scottish National Opera has put bookings on hold for the 2008/9 season, awaiting the contractors’ report. Work on the hall’s front of house facilities was due to be complete by the start of the concert season in October, with a project completion date of early 2009.

But contractors were this week expected to push completion back by months with construction of front of house facilities continuing throughout the concert season. A spokesman for client Edinburgh City Council said that there would be a cost associated with continuing construction through the concert season.

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