Exclusive: VolkerFitzpatrick and developer Goodman sued over ‘defects and damage’ in Bristol storage facility

The Accolade Park warehouse, the largest in Europe, was built for £41m in 2008

The Accolade Park warehouse, the largest in Europe, was built for £41m in 2008

Contractor VolkerFitzpatrick and developer Goodman are facing a legal claim of up to £141m over problems with the construction of the largest wine warehouse in Europe, it has emerged.

VolkerFitzpatrick and landlord and developer Goodman are being sued by Accolade Wines, the tenant of the Accolade Park wine warehouse in Bristol, because of “defects and damage” to the building.

Accolade claims “defective piles” that “provide insufficient support for the floor slabs” have led to “differential settlement” across the floor of the £41m warehouse and “cracking of the slab”.

Accolade also claims that due to “workmanship defects” the slabs cannot achieve the performance requirements of the warehouse, and that while some of the cracking is because of the defects in the piling, some is also due to “inadequacies in the slab itself”.

As Building revealed in August, £467m-turnover VolkerFitzpatrick is already suing piling specialist Keller over problems with the warehouse, claiming that piling defects caused cracks in the slabs.

The contractor is suing Keller for an amount to be determined when the extent of any of its own liability to Accolade is established.

Keller denies its work was faulty and is defending the claim.

The court papers of Accolade’s claim against VolkerFitzpatrick and Goodman have only now been made available.

The papers, filed at the Technology and Construction Court and seen by Building, show that the full claim is for up to £141m, including £33m for the cost of remedial works and up to £104m in costs for Accolade to relocate while the remedial works are carried out.

It adds that if it was not possible to find a suitable site to relocate to, the firm would need new “bespoke premises” to be built at a cost of up to £107m.

It claims this would be “a sensible course” as “there is not likely to be a single suitable like-for-like alternative set of premises available at the relevant time” and that “multi-site occupancy” would be “unsatisfactory” and “likely to cause further extra loss which is difficult to quantify”.

The papers also claim the issues at the development are not limited to the warehouse.

Accolade claims that crushed concrete fill imported onto the site has reacted with sulphates in the ground and expanded causing the ground to “heave”, “reducing the structural strength of the concrete” and in some places leading to cracks in the concrete slabs of the loading bays outside the warehouse.

Accolade also claims that the cost of remedial works will be exacerbated “by the presence of asbestos, which has been discovered in the [crushed concrete] fill”, making it more expensive to remove.

In its defence, VolkerFitzpatrick denied the claims made against its work, but admitted to defects in the piling, which it claims were caused by Keller and are covered by its claim against the subcontractor.

It did not admit to the existence of asbestos in the concrete fill, but said even if there was asbestos this would not “significantly increase the costs of remedial works”.

It added: “The scope of remedial works proposed by Accolade, and their related costs, have fluctuated significantly since VolkerFitzpatrick were first contacted about the problems at Accolade Park.

“It is evident that the true scope of any necessary remedial work and its cost will not be clear until the ongoing investigations and tests are completed and assessed.”

In its defence, Goodman, which is separately suing VolkerFitzpatrick, claims that any defects were “caused by the defective construction and/or design of the premises by VolkerFitzpatrick.”

A spokesperson for Accolade Wines added that it was only taking legal action because “long running discussions” on resolving the problems had “failed”.

VolkerFitzpatrick, Goodman, and Keller declined to comment.