Exclusive: IMPACT concert hall facing significant challenge as building costs soar above £100m
Construction industry crisis spells problems for world class venue plans
Cost of Capital’s first purpose built concert hall in more than a century hits double original price tag
The cost of building the IMPACT concert hall off St Andrew Square has dramatically shot up, putting a strain on the project’s finances.
The Inquirer understands the estimated cost of the project has risen by around £40 million since the Covid lockdowns amidst the biggest costs crisis in the construction industry in decades.
That means it has risen from an initial £45 million when it was granted planning permission in 2019 to more than £100 million.
The context: The 1,000-seat venue, set to open by 2026, will be the biggest built in the capital since the Usher Hall in 1914. It will be home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, play a key role in the Edinburgh International Festival and host classical, pop, rock, jazz and other concerts.
World class facility: Nagata Acoustics, which is working on the project in partnership with world-renowned architects David Chipperfield, has been responsible for some of the world’s most famous new concert venues including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
Funding challenge: The wealthy arts philanthropist Carol Grigor, who is also supporting the plans to convert the old Royal High School into a national music school, is helping to bankroll the concert hall. The cost increase has led the charitable trust behind IMPACT to go back to its funders, including the UK and Scottish Governments and the City of Edinburgh Council, to ask for more money.
What they say: Ronnie Bowie, chair of IMPACT, said he was unable to “provide commentary on the financial figures” due to ongoing negotiations. “As a charity it is vital that we get best value for money at the point of entering into the main construction contract; our extensive market testing and discussion gives us confidence that the supply chain rem ains ready, willing and able to deliver this once-in-a-century project. This site has been hidden away for 250 years but it is going to unlock cross-community benefit for generations to come.”