Job to fix leaks into listed estate’s exhibition halls bogged down by compliance issues with climate and biodiversity plans

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Source: Atkins / City of London

Atkins Realis’ proposals for the second phase of improvement works to the Barbican podium cover an area the size of two football pitches

The City of London’s plans to repair leaks at the Barbican have been delayed by more than a year and hit by a 60% cost hike due to compliance issues with the council’s climate strategy.

Work at the grade II-listed estate to replace a damaged waterproofing membrane beneath the site’s podium had been priced at £12.5m but will now cost up to £20m, the City has admitted.

Atkins was appointed last year to oversee the job, which will include taking up hard and soft landscaping along an 18,4 sq m area of public realm along the northern side of the estate in order to fix water ingress into exhibition halls beneath the site’s podium deck.

The City posted a prior information notice (PIN) pre-warning the market of the tender opportunity in March last year but this was never followed up by a full contract notice.

It is understood that the scope, remit and complexity of the works has since increased due to the requirements of the City’s Climate Action Strategy and Biodiversity Plan, resulting in last week’s publication of a second PIN nearly 16 months after the market was originally notified. A contract is now expected to be published in September.

The City describes its Climate Action Strategy, adopted in 2020, as a “radical” plan to build climate resilience over the next two decades.

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Source: Atkins / City of London

The cost of the job has increased by as much as 60% since last year due to compliance issues with the City’s climate policies

It commits the Corporation to achieve net zero carbon emissions in its own operations by 2027 and across the Square Mile by 2040, and is being backed by £68m in funding between 2020 and 2027, including £15m dedicated to preparing the City for extreme weather events.

The council’s current Biodiversity Plan, which runs to 2026, aims to connect the City’s hundreds of open areas including parks, plazas and churchyards to provide a network of wildlife habitats.

The two policies rule out a like for like replacement of the Barbican’s waterproofing membrane, meaning a new approach has had to be developed. Atkins is understood to still be the multidisciplinary designer and engineer, with no contractor yet appointed or removed.

The scheme is the second phase of works at the estate following an initial phase completed in 2015 on an adjoining part of the podium which had had retained the original waterproofing and screeds below it.

This did not entirely stopped water ingress, with the second phase aiming to build on the lessons learned from the first phase, according to the City.

It will also include a new landscaping approach for the podium featuring planted areas, public art, play space and lighting.

Additionally, Atkins’ plans involve the removal of the so-called “link building” entrance to the Barbican Exhibition Halls, which was not part of the original Chamberlin, Powell and Bon plans.