Details of dispute between contractor Cantillon and developer Urvaso over extension of time revealed in High Court writ

A dispute between building contractors Cantillon and property owners Urvasco over a planned 11-storey hotel on the site of the first ever BBC radio broadcast is headed for the High Court.

Cantillon has spent more than a year demolishing Citibank and Marconi Houses in London’s Strand.

The site adjoins the BBC’s Bush House recording studios and the BBC’s first ever broadcast, a news bulletin, was sent out from there on 14 November 1922.

Urvasco is planning to build an 11-storey 5 star hotel on the site, the Silkin Hotel, and workmen have had to demolish the existing buildings, while keeping the grade II listed facade of Portland stone and not interfering with the BBC’s recording commitments.

But now principal contractor Cantillon has fallen out with Urvasco over the £7.3m complex demolition contract, which involved asbestos removal, soft strip, and extensive ground works for the planned hotel, which includes three underground floors.

The row between the two sides was taken to an adjudication and Cantillon says that although the adjudicator awarded it £391,565.60 plus VAT for breach of contract, Urvaco has not paid a penny.

Urvasco has paid the adjudicator’s fees of £31,892.44 plus VAT, according to a High Court writ.

Now Cantillon has turned to the High Court where it is claiming a total of £460,089.58 plus VAT from Urvasco.

Cantillon’s part of the project was originally designed to take 62 weeks, the writ says. But disputes arose between the two sides over Cantillon’s request for a time extension, and Cantillon asked for an extra 16 weeks, as well as for an extra 13 weeks certified by architects for changes in in-board piling, the writ claims. The adjudicator Dr Francesco Mastrandrea reached his decision on November 28 2007 and decided the claim largely in favour of Cantillon, the writ says.

Cantillon accuses Urvasco of refusing to comply with his decision, and says its solicitors wrote just before Christmas saying they would not pay up. Cantillon argues that the adjudicator’s decision is binding and is asking the High Court to enforce it.