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Cost of Bath Spa could reach £35m

News - Fresh blow for Bath Spa project as review predicts further delays and soaring costs

THE FINAL cost of the troubled Bath Spa project could top £35 million according to a report put before the city council this week.

A review by independent consultants also warned that current estimates for the project's completion date could be way off.

Plans to refurbish the city's thermal spa at a cost of £19 million have hit a wave of problems during the four-year development.

Project completion is already two years overdue and £7 million over budget. And the latest blow comes after consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed its worstcase scenario price of £35 million was not written in stone.

The report stated: 'There is substantial uncertainty over the actual costs which the project may incur, and it would be unwise therefore to suggest that further costs will not materialise, or that the final cost will not rise.'

The bad news was exacerbated after no guarantee could be given that the leisure facility will be reopened this year.

It had been hoped that the pools would welcome visitors in the autumn, two and a half years late.

But the review added: 'The current estimates for completion should be treated with the utmost caution.This project continues to be fraught with difficulty in determining not only the correct and best solutions to such problems, but also defining with any accuracy the expected costs.'

The project has been dogged by rows mainly between the council and contractor Mowlem.The two locked horns after paint began to flake when the newly built pools were filled with natural spa water.The costly error resulted in both parties taking legal action against the other but continuing to work hand in hand.Dutch contractor Bovitec is repainting the pools and will hand over matters to Mowlem when complete.

But the contractor also refused to estimate when the complex would be finished.

A spokeswoman for Mowlem said: 'We can neither predict nor influence the completion date because it is dependent upon decisions from the client that remain outstanding and are the subject of redesign instructions yet to be issued by the council and their designers.'