Cost of restoring historic Bristol concert hall soars to £132m

Bristol Beacon

The cost of refurbishing one of Bristol’s biggest concert venues is likely to be almost three times the original estimate.

The refurbishment of Bristol Beacon, which used to called Colston Hall, is likely to cost £132m. The original estimate was for £48m.

A report on the increase has gone to Bristol City Council’s cabinet. According to the report the money will be paid back over the next 50 years.

The latest increase comes two years after the bill for the refurbishment doubled to over £90m.

Bristol City Council owns the venue which has been closed for almost five years.

The report to the council said that the building is on a constrained site and has suffered from a lack of maintenance and modernisation.

The council has written off £69m on the project – a figure expected to rise to £93m – because of payments due to contractor Willmott Dixon.

The paper added that delaying the work would be even more expensive and could delay the reopening by years.

The report to the council is titled Bristol Beacon – update on inflation, opening date and new funding decision.

The reports said: “The impact of inflation and external influences on the budget has been significant and the complex and flawed fabric of the building has continued to cause problems negatively effecting time and cost.

“As the freehold owner of the building Bristol City Council agreed to be the accountable body for the overall project with ultimate responsibility to underwrite costs of development and ultimate funder of last resort including funding risk and construction risk.

“The building sits on a constrained site and has suffered from a lack of maintenance and modernisation with no major refurbishment for 60 years.”

EY has carried out a value-for-money assessment to determine if the project remains a solid investment for the local authority.

The report said: “The entertainment and theatre sector has not yet returned to pre-pandemic economic outputs, with technological developments having the potential to impact demand in the longer term.

“The current economic climate challenges represent a risk to the project and the income potential from the running of the asset.

“Given the competition across the sector, particularly with the opening of YTL Arena in 2024, the Bristol Music Trust will need to develop a unique selling point to differentiate it’s offering.”

The Grade II listed building on Colston Street opened as a concert venue in 1867. It was renamed due to the controversy surrounding former merchant and slaver Edward Colston.


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