As Building went to press, the Spencely report into the cost of the Holyrood building had not yet been released to MSPs. However, it is understood that it estimates that the project will be delivered on 24 December 2003 at a cost of £230.86m. It was originally thought that the project would be completed in autumn 2001 and cost £50m.
Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond savaged first minister Donald Dewar’s stewardship of the parliament. He told Building: “Throughout the whole saga, Donald Dewar has failed to provide detailed information. There appears to have been a determined effort by Mr Dewar to conceal relevant information from the public and politicians. He has a lot of questions to answer.”
The Spencely report, written by retired architect John Spencely, is also thought to claim that there is scope for reducing the figure to £190-200m if its recommendations are accepted.
The report does not state clearly whether the Enric Miralles-designed building represents value for money. However, the new parliament’s costs are compared favourably with the costs of London’s new MPs offices at Portcullis House.
Spencely was also charged with finding out why costs had soared. It is understood that his report claims that the amended project cost of £62m approved by MSPs in June 1999 excluded design risk assessment and other costs totalling £27.04m, or nearly 40% of the total.
This week also saw the publication of the original feasibility reports into the four proposed sites. These suggest that costs (as of 31 March 1998) could have been much lower had the St Andrews House option been selected.
The reports show that St Andrews House offered 24 000 m2 while Holyrood offered 16 000 m2. One of the reasons given for the rising costs of the Holyrood site was the need for greater space.
Salmond said of the feasibility reports: “It now emerges that costs for Holyrood were always an underestimate, and Mr Dewar failed to make clear that St Andrew’s House would have provided 50% more space than Holyrood at the outset.”