THE Jerwood Gallery has been hit by delays of at least five months and will not open its doors until next year.
And in an embarrassing case of crossed wires, the gallery director has insisted the project is on track, despite Hastings Borough Council admitting it has ‘known for some time’ that building delays had scuppered the construction timetable.
The original opening date of summer 2011 for the multi-million pound project at The Stade has now been pushed back to early 2012.
Jerwood director Liz Gilmore claimed the gallery was at most a few weeks behind schedule and that any delay could be made up. “We have had a few weeks of delay where there were groundworks that held us back, but there’s nothing really significant,” she said.
“From my experience of capital projects we are doing really well.
“There’s not really a major delay and we are on track to complete it by late autumn.
“We felt it was better to launch nationally and locally in early 2012 rather than 2011.”
Ms Gilmore’s comment contradicts the Jerwood’s own previous accounts, and a sign currently at The Stade, which declares the gallery will open its doors this summer.
Kevin Boorman, spokesman for Hastings Borough Council (HBC), acknowledged there had been problems with construction.
“It has been our understanding that they have been delayed,” he said.
“They have been saying September for some time, but it was never going to be open this season.”
But he added: “I have no doubt at all that it will be absolutely fantastic when it does open. The delay is absolutely not an issue as far as we are concerned.”
And he dismissed fears that local businesses would lose out from the expected tourism boost, saying: “I don’t see that it will have a significant impact.”
Alan Smith, secretary for pressure group Save Our Stade, who have campaigned against the location of the Jerwood, said news of the delay was “unfortunate but not unexpected”.
“It’s being built now, and so it’s in everyone’s interest to be a success,” he said. “We don’t think it will, but that’s our fear, not our hope.”