Rhyl Queen’s Buildings project slammed as ‘white elephant’ as costs rise to £12.6m
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
An outspoken councillor has slammed Denbighshire County Council for investing millions of pounds into a ‘white elephant’ that has now gone another £1.7m over budget.
This week the council announced it planned to progress with phase one of Rhyl’s Queen’s Buildings project but admitted it needs more money to pay for increased construction costs.
The total cost of the first phase of the project has now risen from £10.9m to £12.6m – an increase of £1,698,220. It was originally intended to cost £7.4m.
The council says additional funding is needed because the cost of construction has increased by 25%, due to a rise in the cost of labour and materials globally.
The demolition works on the site are now complete, but Denbighshire’s cabinet will meet next week to discuss how to foot the bill.
Planning consent was approved last year for a market hall and event space with landscaped areas.
The site is regarded as a key part in the council’s regeneration of the town and its plans to reconnect the waterfront and promenade to the town centre.
On hearing Denbighshire needs more finances to complete the project, Cllr Paul Penlington slammed the plans
“This continued mis-management of Denbighshire finances is sickening,” said Cllr Penlington.
“At a time when the cost of living has increased more than ever, Denbighshire County Council are increasing council tax and regularly adding extra charges for public services like bins.
“It is appalling that they are now seeking to pile millions of pounds more debt onto the residents of Denbighshire. This white elephant is already at least 57% over budget, and Denbighshire County Council contract management, in all areas, has been slated by auditors several times in recent years.
“Any cabinet member with a sense of honour would resign. They have failed the people they are supposed to represent, and all they have achieved is to put Denbighshire into well over £200 million pounds of debt that residents will be expected to pay for many years. At the same time, they repeatedly refuse to consider funding a new school in Prestatyn. I wonder if this is the real reason why.”
The council says it needs to raise the ground-floor level of the site to comply with flooding legislation.
Denbighshire also said today it will be applying for additional funding through its capital plan. The project has been funded by Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme.
The council’s cabinet will discuss the funding on Tuesday.
The finished project will provide a ‘vibrant mix of retail, food and beverage, contemporary market, office and residential space’.
Cllr Hugh Evans, leader of Denbighshire County Council and lead member for the economy, said: “The Council have been working closely with Welsh Government to develop the Queen’s Buildings project into an asset for Denbighshire which people want to visit, where businesses will want to invest, as well as contributing towards the regeneration of Rhyl town centre.
“The regeneration of Rhyl is a long-term project which will help benefit the economy throughout Denbighshire and the Queen’s Buildings form a vital part of that plan.
“The development of the Queen’s Buildings and the work already completed on the waterfront will be enhanced by our funding bid to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund programme which will include improvements to the public realm and further regeneration in the town centre and high street.”
“We are committed to delivering this asset for Denbighshire, it’s economic benefits remain a very important part in the regeneration programme.”
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