Scottish Parliament - Criticism - Costs


The escalating costs of the construction of the new Parliament building led to widespread criticism. Miralles' new Scottish Parliament building opened for business on 7 September 2004, three years late. The estimated final cost was £431 million. The white paper in 1997 estimated that a new building would have a net construction cost of £40 million, although this was based on the presumption that the old Royal High School building (since renamed 'New Parliament House') would be used, as had long been assumed. After the devolution referendum it was quickly announced that the high school, which is smaller than many council chambers, was entirely inadequate for the Parliament, and negotiations began for a new building on a new site. This led critical media and politicians to claim the final building was "ten times over budget". Miralles' building was in fact costed at £109 million, prior to major increases in space.

The cost overruns of the Scottish Parliament Building further dented confidence in public opinion in the ability of the public sector to handle major infrastructure and building projects. In defence the Scottish Parliament has compared the final £431m cost with other cost overruns in projects such as Portcullis House – a parliamentary office block in Westminster - built for use by 200 MPs, which cost £250 million, including £100 million spent on bronze cladding, £250m for the redevelopment of the German Reichstag, £40m for the development of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, and £800m for the construction of the Millennium Dome.

Lord Fraser's Inquiry reported on 15 September 2004 and identified the choice of the construction management procurement route as the main factor in the fourfold increase in estimated costs establishing that a £270 million value building ended up costing £431 million, an identifiable waste of £181 million. This was portrayed as clearing Donald Dewar of any blame.

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