As the arguments continue about a second Scottish referendum it is worth remembering that Scotland has its own parliament and its own powers. Many people will not be aware of the controversial history of the site which is often referred to as “Holyrood” due to its location. So, how much did the Scottish Parliament cost to build and why has it been so controversial?
Building commenced in 1999
After years of argument and discussion the building of the Scottish Parliament finally began in June 1999 with the first debate held on 7 September 2004. While the property was opened by the Queen on 9 October 2004 the designer, Enric Miralles, died before the building was completed. This was certainly not a good sign of things to come!
Who forecast the cost of building Holyrood?
We can only guess that the designers and builders came up with the initial cost estimate which ranged between £10 million and £40 million. This was a rather large variation but worse was yet to come. By the time the property was finished the total cost came in at £414 million, more than 10 times the highest forecast cost and more than 40 times the lowest forecast cost. How on earth can a building on which construction began in 1999 and finished in 2004 increase from a cost value anywhere from £10 million up to £414 million?
Enquiry into the debacle
An enquiry was established in 2003 during which the former Lord Advocate Peter Fraser led the nuts and bolts review of the whole project. Each level of the project was subject to significant criticism from the designers to the builders. During the relatively short period of construction there were a staggering number of changes to the original plans which are said to have been behind the massive rise in cost. However, many people were afraid to criticise the ballooning cost of the Scottish Parliament building as it was a major step in Scotland’s possible road to independence.
While the design, building and opening of the Scottish Parliament were controversial enough, there have been ongoing design issues since day one. Indeed, the Scottish Parliament was relocated for a short time while some of the issues were addressed. It was so bad that elements of the breathtaking roof design actually fell down into the debating chamber when MPs were sitting. This was dangerous!
Symbol of independence
There is no doubt that the Scottish Parliament is now seen as a symbol of what many hope will be forthcoming Scottish independence. There have been rumours that the UK government may look to disband some of the regional parliaments but this will never happen. The start of the Scottish Parliament may have been controversial, and not all issues have yet been addressed, but to many people it is more than just a building.
The Scottish Parliament will be a main focal point as the Scottish and the UK government fight over a possible referendum. The external and internal designs are outstanding, there is great emphasis on eco-friendly materials and in many ways it is disappointing that it will be remembered for its controversial early life as opposed to what it has to offer to the world of construction.