Concerns over Intu Broadmarsh project

Pictures of the intu Broadmarsh, from the roof of the new car park, bus station and library before work was halted, and before social distancing measures were introduced. Picture: Kit Sandeman

While construction work has continued at other development sites in the city, including the Broadmarsh bus station and car park, work on the Broadmarsh shopping centre stopped in March.

It comes as owner Intu continues to suffer financially, with long-standing issues being exacerbated by a drop in rents received due to the coronavirus situation.

Yesterday, the firm announced it was at risk of defaulting on its debts unless lenders could give them breathing space.

Sir Robert McAlpine, the construction firm which was carrying out the work, said it was ‘awaiting instruction’ from Intu as to when to resume.

Construction work has restarted at other Sir Robert McAlpine construction sites, with social distancing measures in place.

A spokesman for Intu said halting construction had been a ‘difficult decision’, and that they would now ‘take the time to review the situation further.”

Yesterday (Monday, May 18), Conservative city councillor Andrew Rule asked the Labour-run city council for clarity.

In a written question presented today at a full council meeting, he asked: “As of the time of writing this question (May 14) and despite Government advice to be that it is now possible to do so, construction work on the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre development has yet to restart.

“While we understand that Intu’s public statements have indicated construction will only recommence when it is safe to do so, and that with the current Covid-19 situation these concerns are absolutely legitimate, there is obviously also speculation that the delays have as much to do with Intu’s very public financial issues as they do with social distancing.

“Can the leader of the council provide us any updated information they have received from Intu regarding the future of the Broadmarsh development and reassure us that it remains, understandable delays notwithstanding, on track for completion?”

In normal circumstances, the question would have been answered in the meeting, but due to the meeting being held online over Zoom, it was agreed that responses would be given by the council within 10 days.

A spokesman for Intu said: “Given the current impact on construction work from coronavirus and the need to close of all but essential retail, we have taken the difficult decision to stop all work on the redevelopment of intu Broadmarsh, and to take the time to review the situation further.”

A spokesman for Sir Robert McAlpine said: “At Intu Broadmarsh, we are awaiting instruction from the client on when works can recommence.”

When asked about work continuing on other Sir Robert McAlpine sites, the spokesman said: “After careful planning, we have started to reopen a number of sites to undertake limited works, only when it is absolutely safe for our people and our trusted supply chain partners to travel to and work onsite, in accordance with all the safety and health guidance issued by the government and the Construction Leadership Council.

“The safety of our workforce remains our highest priority as we consider ways to meet the needs of our clients for the sustainability of the business and our supply chain partners.

“Our COVID-19 specific control plan allows for each project to prepare an efficient return to operations that can be carefully monitored and does not compromise on any safety measures.

“Many of our projects have continued to carry out essential off-site and preconstruction work, ensuring that we are best prepared for a full return to work at the appropriate time.

“We are a family and care deeply for one another and our communities. We are incredibly proud of the opportunities we have had to support our NHS heroes by helping to convert venues across the country into surge hospitals for Covid-19 patients.

“The resourcefulness, commitment and dignity that our people demonstrate every day in the face of complex challenges has been remarkable.

“Together, we continue to make every effort to keep performing and overcome adverse situations in these difficult times so we can resume building Britain’s future heritage as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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