Council appoints contractor to finish off multi-storey car park and other work

Willmott Dixon has been picked to finish off a £135m mixed-use scheme in Swansea left in the lurch by collapsed contractor Buckingham.

Copr Bay consists of the Swansea Arena, a coastal park, retail space and a residential block and is part of a wider £1bn regeneration of Swansea town centre.

Started in 2019, it is mostly complete and open but a multi-storey car park and some remaining minor works are yet to be finished.

Swansea council has appointed Willmott Dixon, which has an office in Cardiff, to complete the snagging works at the site and the new car park with an estimated completion date of next spring.

Buckingham, the previous main contractor, sank into administration last month with the loss of nearly 500 jobs.

Copr Bay from above

Aerial view of the Copr Bay scheme

Kier stepped in to save 180 jobs with a deal to buy the firm’s £75m-turnover rail business, which includes its work for Network Rail and HS2, for £9.6m.

The collapse of Buckingham, which was set up in 1987, left a number of high-profile jobs in limbo including repairs to Birmingham City FC’s ground, which has been handed over to Mace.

In a statement, Swansea council added: “When our contractors Buckingham went into administration, we had to act quickly to protect the council’s position and complete the unfinished work. 

“The financial arrangements we have in place mean we don’t envisage these works leading to extra costs for the council or the taxpayer.”

Liverpool FC, whose Anfield Road stand was being expanded by Buckingham, drafted in Rayner Rowen, a Preston-based firm to complete the 7,000 seat job which will take Anfield’s capacity up to 61,000.

In its last set of accounts, for the year to December 2021, Buckingham’s turnover went up 14% to £665m but the firm racked up a £10.7m pre-tax loss with the company blaming a bust subcontractor and a client that kept changing its mind on a stadium contract, widely believed to be its scheme at Fulham’s ground, sending it to only its second annual pre-tax loss since being set up. The firm had been predicting income this year of around £700m.

Last month, Fulham said the Craven Cottage job, originally due to finish in time for the start of the 2021/22 season, would not be completed until next year. It is understood to have hired Northern Irish fit-out specialist Portview to complete the work.