Hastings library repairs cost £720k more than expected

Hastings Library
Hastings Library

The refurbishment of Hastings library cost £720,000 more than expected, according to East Sussex County Council’s monitoring report.

The council was planning to spend £8,782,000 to refurbish the grade II listed building, but the report, which monitors the council’s finances, showed the expected cost of the project was £9,503,000 – an overspend of £721,000.

During the refurbishment, existing paint and coatings were removed from the front of the building to show more serious degradation of the underlying stone.

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “The condition of the stonework made it clear that there was a serious structural issue with the stability of the façade of the building which would have to be addressed. Replacement of stone and repairs to stone and mortar were required to restore the structural integrity to the front of the building.

“As soon as this became clear in February 2017, contractors began work to rectify these problems and the projected opening date was put back to the spring of 2018. These works are now largely complete and the contractors are undertaking their final works to the library before it is handed back to the library service for furniture to be fitted and for it to be stocked.

“While the project budget did include contingencies to take into account the age and condition of the building, it’s not uncommon for a project on this scale and for this age of building to go over-budget.

“Whilst we regret that the works we have had to undertake to the façade of the library building have caused a delay to its re-opening, these are works that we had no choice but to carry out to make the building safe.

“It was preferable that the need for the works was identified whilst we were carrying out a complete refurbishment of the building rather than coming to light at a later stage, which would have caused further disruption and a lot more money to fix.

“Because the building is Grade II listed, all of the repairs had to be done on a ‘like-for-like’ basis, using original materials and techniques.

“The building will re-open in the spring of 2018, as planned, providing a first rate, modern library for Hastings.”

The refurbishment was funded by the capital budget which has no impact on the proposals to close seven libraries across the county in the new year.