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Opera House Cost Rises

The budget for refurbishing Jersey Opera House has grown by £1 million.

Ashbe Construction has been chosen to do the work, which we are now told will cost £12.7 million.

The local building firm has been doing the preparatory work on the theatre since September.

It has now been appointed preferred contractor for the full refurbishment.

The construction company's managing director, Ben Cairney, says he is over the moon that they secured the contract.

"[The Opera House} is something that is close to every islander's heart, Glouster Street is probably [one of] the busiest parts of the island, everyone drives past it and it has been a massive shame to see it not in use for the last few years, so it is something we are hugely proud to be part of bringing back to the island.

"This is probably one of the most significant landmarks in the island, I would say, so it's going to be hard to top it.

"We've really enjoyed working with the government up until now."

 Ben Cairney of Ashbe Construction.

£11.7 million pounds had been budgeted, but extra mechanical and electrical work has been identified.

Ben says that the costs have come from the decarbonisation of the building.

"In between when the original budget was put together and where we are now with the final price, carbon neutrality and Jersey's Carbon Neutral Roadmap have become more prevalent.

"The decision was made to decarbonise the building and essentially that means upgrading the mechanical, electrical and ventilation systems to more modern apparatus that uses less energy in order to help Jersey reach its goal of carbon neutrality."

The managing director goes on to tell Channel 103 that there are no challenges being faced at the moment as the systems and specifications are in place, but the largest challenge was bringing the budget down.

"Again, it's a benefit for the overall facility for it to operate more efficiently, using less electricity, it will cost less to operate, it will be more efficient and better for our environment, so I think it's probably a really essential part of the works now."

The Grade II theatre is expected to be handed back on 21 December 2024, providing there are no delays.

A planning application was submitted in January 2023, adding a modern glazed frontage to the theatre's historic façade.

The theatre closed for the Covid lockdown in March 2020.  It was unable to reopen after restrictions were lifted because of safety concerns, with the building falling into further disrepair.

In July, Interim CEO Andrew Eagle told Channel 103 he hoped to welcoming audiences back by early 2025 at the latest.

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