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Architect faces writ over 'too narrow ' car park

NEWS - Milton Keynes council set to sue architect and subcontractor over deficiencies in design of theatre car park

THE ARCHITECT behind a showpiece theatre in Milton Keynes is being sued amid claims the car park it designed for the complex is so narrow the local council has been forced to shell out thousands of pounds to compensate motorists for damaged vehicles.

The £30 million theatre was opened in 1999 at a gala event hosted by Four Weddings and a Funeral actor Simon Callow and a year later picked up a prestigious award from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

But in a writ issued at the Technology & Construction Court against London architect Blonski and Heard and specialist sub-contractor Bourne Steel, car park owner Milton Keynes Borough Council claims the car park's 'defective design'means it will have to be repaired.

The council said 'the up and down ramps are too narrow'and added: 'The curve of the concrete up-stand on the left hand (passenger) side intrudes into the generally accepted minimum width for a straight ramp.The ramps are therefore unusually difficult to negotiate in a normal sized car.'

In the writ, the council says it has had to pay nearly £4,000 in compensation to drivers who have scratched their cars while trying to get up the ramps.The writ adds: 'MKBC is concerned that the car park has been insufficiently used due to its reputation of being difficult for drivers to use.'

A council spokeswoman said: 'The angle of the turning up the ramp is too steep and a lot of car drivers have ended up scraping the front of their vehicles.'

The council is claiming at least £500,000 but insiders said the figure could eventually top £1 million. As well as the cost of the remedial work, the council says it will suffer a loss of revenue while repair work at the multi-storey building, used by theatre-goers and shoppers, is carried out.

Bourne Steel is accused of 'failing to exercise all reasonable skill and care in the design of the sub-contract works'and that they 'failed to ensure the sub-contract works when completed were fit for the purposes for which they were required'The writ adds: 'They failed to advise and/or warn the architects and/or MKBC as to the deficiencies in the design of the car park.'

Both Blonski and Heard and Bourne Steel declined to comment.