The first phase of the restoration of Madeira Terrace could now see just 28 arches restored to keep soaring costs down.
Members of the Madeira Terrace Advisory Panel were told last week that inflation meant the costs of the proposed first phase is likely to exceed the original budget.
Repairs to the Royal Crescent Steps have definitely been ruled out for the first phase, but the new lift has been prioritised over keeping the number of arches restored at 40.
The scheme has gone out to final tender this week, with bidders asked to quote both for restoring 40 arches and for 28. If the former quotes come back too high, the council will go with the latter option.
One of the members of the panel, fundraiser Jax Atkins, said: “This is yet another massive disappointment from the council. It’s been going on for years and gradually the length of the refurbishment is decreasing. It is just not on.
“So much money has been wasted so far and people want to see results from the money donated and from their council tax payments.
“We all well know that the lifts need to be rethought from an aesthetic and financial view. Upgrading the existing Madeira Lift has to be a priority.
“The work on the other lift (lifts?) needs to be put on the back-burner. Money will be saved doing this and then the council can renovate a larger amount of arches and as no-one likes the new lift designs, there will be happiness all round.”
The new lift, which will be open around the clock, is set to be built just to the west of the Madeira Lift, which has been out of action since 2021.
The walkway surrounding it has also now been fenced off because of fresh structural concerns. It was not scheduled to be repaired in the first phase.
A council spokesman said: “Significant increases in construction and material costs have affected all areas of construction in the past year.
“In preparation for issuing our invitation to tender to contractors for this important project we have reviewed project finances to ensure that a high-quality renovation will be delivered within the budget, which was set before the pandemic and prior to widespread cost inflation.
“As a result of the current cost pressures, we have discussed with the Madeira Terrace Restoration Advisory Panel the need to have an option to reduce the number of arches included in Phase 1 of the project if the costs from bidding contractors come in too high.
“Potentially there might be an option to reduce from 40 to 28 arches.
“The alternative would be that, if costs come in too high and we do not have that flexibility, then we would not be able to renovate any of the arches.”
Phase 1 of the project would still include:
• renovating the deck above the arches, with additional seating and greening, infrastructure for canopies/shades and for pop-up events
• re-facing and planting to conserve the Green Wall
• reinstatement of verges at Madeira Drive level
• new stairs adjacent to Concorde 2, and
• the new lift – which the council says is a key component for the scheme as it will ensure access for all.
The invitation to tender is expected to be issued to contractors in October, with a view to the chosen contractor starting on site in spring 2024.