Corn Exchange restoration builders go bust

Posted On 02 Jul 2019 at 5:30 pm

By C Luke


The builders who were restoring the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre have gone bust.

The council has taken back the site and made it secure following the news that R Durtnell & Sons Ltd has ceased trading.

It says it is still committed to completing the £22 million refurbishment of the theatre buildings and will now be “exploring practical options” for the essential restoration works as soon as possible.

Since construction work began in February 2017, the project has experienced several unforeseen issues on the historic site. A Quaker burial ground was uncovered in August 2017, with human remains excavated by a team of archaeologists, and structural issues have been discovered with the Corn Exchange’s 200-year old wooden frame and roof trusses.

The revamp includes a Corn Exchange viewing gallery, a dedicated creative space for workshops and rehearsals, and a new street-facing café opening out onto New Road.

The £22 million project includes principle funding from Arts Council England (£5.8m), National Lottery Heritage Fund (£4.9m), as well as significant commitments from Coast to Capital and Brighton & Hove City Council.

Major support from private contributions includes a number of charitable trusts and foundations and individual donors as well as fundraising, including a community campaign, The Build Brighton Dome community appeal.

This has secured over £130,000 so far and each pound is match funded by The Roddick Foundation.

  1. Valerie Reply

    What happened to the company that it ceased trading? What is that story????

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      Hi Valerie, it’s not clear right now – the company’s website and social media have all disappeared, and they’re based in Brasted in Kent, so not really possible for me to doorknock what is probably an empty office.

      Hopefully soon it will become clear who’s been appointed as administrators, and we may get a better idea.

      What is certainly true is that in the last few years, the cost of construction materials is said to have rocketed. Brexit uncertainty has also hit the construction industry hard. Their last full accounts filed on Companies House showed a £700,000 loss on a £51million turnover, and spoke of cashflow problems in 2018, so it’s clear the company has been struggling for some months.

      • Rolivan Reply

        Which makes it even more worrying that they were given the contract in the first place.As for blaming the uncertainty of Brexit on just about everything is not cutting it with me.If they had a fixed price contract then surely they should have done the same with their suppliers before a spade was put into the ground?
        Due diligence seems to be lacking in just about everything the Council is involved in these last 10 years and it is about time Officers were made accountable.

      • Rolivan Reply

        To make things even worse they were fined £700,000 back in 2009 for price fixing so why were they given the contract?

    • Kevin Anderson Reply

      Hi i was working on the project for the last months turned up for work on Tuesday to find gates locked and a guard dog on site we were allowed to remove only our personal tools

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