Designer agrees out-of-court settlement after Manchester council sues over B of the Bang

Designer Thomas Heatherwick has had to pay £1.7m to Manchester City Council after his B of the Bang sculpture became a safety hazard.

Heatherwick and his subcontractors Packman Lucas, Flint and Neill Partnership and Westbury Structures together reached an out-of-court settlement yesterday with the council over the controversial sculpture near Manchester’s Eastlands stadium.

B of the Bang
Heatherwick's B of the Bang sculpture

The £1.5m sculpture was commissioned to commemorate the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. But after the 56m-high structure was unveiled, there were problems with some of its steel spikes falling to the ground. An exclusion zone had to be created for the safety of the public, and emergency remedial action was taken by council subcontractors.

The council decided to take legal action against Heatherwick and his construction team in December, after claiming it had given them “every opportunity to remedy the situation”, and sued for breach of contract and negligence.

Heatherwick and his team yesterday agreed to pay £1.7m in an out of-court settlement. The sum covers the original cost together with £200,000 which may be used either to make the sculpture safe or dismantle it.

The pay-out will be an embarrassment to Heatherwick, whose reputation was boosted by the ambitious piece of urban design.