1.1 The key components of the strategy which the Design Team and the Study Management Group devised were based around four key criteria:
- carrying out essential structural repairs and waterproofing;
- maximising public access and usage;
- providing a basis for further restoration work as and when funds become available;
- containing risk and the possibility of the contract costs overrunning.
2.0 LIKELY SHAPE OF THE SCHEME
2.1 This approach and the budget limit (which was not to be exceeded) gave a scheme which, subject to further detailed design and costing analysis, was likely (but not certain) to contain the following elements:
- a repair of the structure across all of the building, including the front pediment and the rear ambulatory area;
- weatherproofing and a rainwater strategy which would prevent future water ingress;
- a basic level of heating and ventilation which wouldl overcome the systemic condensation problems experienced for much of its life;
- works to the rear of the stage to allow the stage to be used again;
- improved access for those with disabilities to the north and south corridors, grand circle and stage;
- improved toilets and first aid accommodation;
- new seats in the Grand Hall and Grand Circle;
- limited interpretive heritage displays for public and educational use;
- limited decorative repairs only throughout front-of-house areas.
2.2 These works, if achievable within the budget, would have allowed the building to be used for the following:
- access to the Grand Hall and Grand Circle for stage performances;
- access to these and the north and south corridors;
- access for public viewing of the main auditorium, foyers and Grand Circle;
- access to the stage for productions similar to those pre-2001;
- re-use of the basement dressing rooms, though with only limited facilities;
- possible public access to the ambulatory, though possibly only limited access to the rear terrace;
- public viewing of an interpretive heritage display which traced the history of the building.
2.3 It was expected therefore that the building would be reusable once again for community type entertainment and arts purposes, for conferences and for commercial entertainment. Additionally, the building would be open for the public to view over most of the ground floor area. Access to, or use of, the Dress Circle was not however envisaged.
2.4 If there were early cost overruns or tender prices exceed expectations, the order of priority of works, to stay within the budget, would have been:
(a) Structural repairs and weatherproofing
(b) Access for the Grand Circle and Grand Hall
(c) Enabling of the stage
(d) Access to the rear ambulatory
but not all of these might achievable if costs prove more expensive than forecast
2.5 The preferred strategy of the core project would not however have allowed the following:
- any access to or use of the upper circle (except technical crew). This would have meant the capacity of the hall would be reduced to 850 (compared to 1,100 pre-2001);
- (The strategy did however envisage the provision of a lift shaft which will enable subsequent restoration of the upper circle and heritage lounge should funds become available at a later date.)
- an enlarged Stage House, with little or no possibility that this will be possible at a future date;
- permanent bar; the use of bottle bars on the north and south corridors will be necessary as a substitute; (The installation and reintroduction of a period bar is likely to be a possible discrete subsequent project.)
- improvements to the access, layout and efficiency of the basement rooms;
- authentic redecoration of the auditorium and other front-of-house areas;
- re-introduction of period seating;
- widening of the stage performance offering (eg: opera).
3.0 DEALING WITH RISK
3.1 The approach to risk management assumed higher profile because of the necessarily limited scope of the revised study. The risk allowance presently built into the budget totalled £1.63m. This was about 31% of the construction budget including preliminaries. Further work on the risk register to isolate and mitigate risk further would take place during the following few weeks as the strategy was turned into a realistic second stage submission for the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
4.1 Much detailed work was carried out on developing an appropriate procurement path. An effective means of procuring a contractor would in itself help to mitigate risk. A two-stage tender process was therefore developed so as to allow the early appointment of a contractor who would be able to feed a “buildability angle” into the final stages of the design process. This decision was based on the expectation that, if the contractor were familiar with the scheme proposals and the context in which they must be implemented, this would improve the scope of the scheme and provide greater cost certainty. The procurement path also envisaged an open book arrangement, with the Council would have full opportunity to vet any and all subcontractor appointments.
4.2 Another important policy was to tender the scope of works on an incremental basis, with initial packages being sufficiently large to ensure that a contractor could achieve economies of scale but with sufficient reserve to cater for any cost increases during construction over and above the project contingency.
5.1 A provisional project programme was devised with the following key milestones:
- October: preferred strategy agreed
- October/November: informal discussions with user groups
- 18th November: Final draft proposal for consideration by Council and HLF considered by Study Management Group
- 26th November: Draft HLF report issued
- Mid December: consideration by Council
- December 24th: submission of revised Stage 2 bid to HLF
- Late January 2005: HLF Trustees meet to consider revised submission
- April 2005: tenders issued
- May 2005: Contractor appointed
- September 2005: Stage 2 tender agreed
- October 2005: start on site
- January 2007: commissioning
- March 2007: formal opening