City market revamp £200,000 overspend

Norwich's controversial market refurbishment has gone £200,000 over budget, according to a report due to go before the council next month.

Norwich's controversial market refurbishment has gone £200,000 over budget, according to a report due to go before the council next month.

The 5pc overspend on the £4.6m project has been blamed on a number of hold-ups including extra excavation work.

Revamping the market, in Gentleman's Walk, is part of the capital expenditure budget which funds projects across the city, rather than frontline services, which means the overspend will not directly hit taxpayers.

However, the situation could mean further delays for major city projects such as the revamp of the war memorial gardens at the back of the market, which the council promised would begin this year.

The expenditure budget also funds repairs to public toilets in the city.

Hereward Cooke, former deputy leader of the council, said: “This overspend is regrettable but understandable to a certain extent.

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“There were archaeological problems where we needed to do more excavation work and this would have cost extra as well as the five or so months longer that was spent on the project.

“It was an innovative project so there were bound to be some problems. There have been some issues with the waterproofing canopies which have not worked on some areas of the market and also the drainage system had to be replaced.

“The overspend could delay things like renovations on public conveniences which are needed in places such as St Andrews Hall.”

A city hall spokeswoman added: “This is 5pc of the project which is roughly what would be allowed as contingency on a major project.”

But market traders said the council had wasted money on the revamp.

Rick Halliday, who works at Ali Bongo, said: “It seems a ridiculous waste of money. There are so many things still wrong with the market. The waterproofing doesn't work properly and it has already starting to go mouldy.

“Since the redevelopment trade has not been brilliant either - there are a lot of customers who are not keen on the new look.”

The market redevelopment has hit several major problems since it began in September 2004. Months after plans were put in place, back row traders threatened to protest because of a loss of business caused by moving to temporary stalls.

In July 2005, surveyors found unexpectedly hard concrete which had to be removed which further delayed the multi-million pound revamp.