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Kent in talks over Turner centre costs

Consultant faces prospect of legal action over risky offshore design.

Kent County Council was this week holding talks with Ramboll Whitbybird to resolve the issues arising from the shelved £48M Turner Centre art gallery in Margate.

The original Ramboll Whitbybird art gallery design was scrapped in 2006 after design and build contractor Nuttall had been appointed. Costs had escalated from £17M to £48M.

The increase was blamed on risks involved with building the structure, which would be located offshore and subject to high winds and crashing waves.

Kent County Council cabinet member for communities Mike Hill confirmed that the council was in mediation in an attempt to recoup some of the £6M already spent on the project, but declined to name the firm it was trying to resolve issues with.

But a senior member of consultant Ramboll Whitbybird, which developed the design for the steel offshore structure, confirmed that representatives of the firm had met with council officials to discuss costs associated with the original scheme. Kent has since revived the scheme with architect David Chipperfield and consultant Arup.

This involves a new gallery design located on shore, removing some of the risks inherent with the original design.

"After a torrid year last year, we're going to tender in June and hope to be on site at the end of this year with the new Turner Gallery," said Hill.

He added that the new £17M design had won unanimous support from the cross party planning committee earlier this month.


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