County council facing 20 per cent hike in cost of converting former bowling alley in Ely to house historic records collection

 Strikes Ely. Picture: Steve Williams.

Strikes Ely. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Councillors may vote to allow pay parking at the former Strikes Bowling Alley in Ely to meet a potential 20 per cent hike in the £4.2 million cost to relocate the county’s historical records collection there.

 Strikes Ely. Picture: Steve Williams.

Strikes Ely. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Using the car park for rail commuters is one idea being considered by the county council as they face having to find up to £860,000 extra following design work carried out after the building was acquired in April.

Senior officers will present options to the highways and community infrastructure committee next Tuesday.

The council voted last year to acquire the building but by confining building works to single storey the original £6 million budget fell to £4.2 million.

But now, and following work carried out since, the council is facing having to find more cash after the projections came back “significantly over the anticipated £4.2 million”.

A report to the committee says that the building brief outlined several pitfalls including flood risk issues. Originally it was felt concrete lining of the walls would be sufficient “however this has not proved to be a suitable solution. The floor of the store needs to be raised to mitigate against a 1:100 year flood risk.”

Other works identified include piled foundations for the concrete ceilings to provide adequate support.

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Councillors will also be told that once the council took the building over a large amount of equipment left there had to be removed “that has meant the disposal costs need to be included within the project budget”.

The urgency of moving the archives out of Shire Hall, Cambridge, is referred to in the report that says current storage conditions “are entirely unsuitable”.

The search for new premises had taken 25 years and Strikes was considered the best and cheapest solution.

Officers say the move is still “value for money” even though costs may have to rise – to keep within the £4.2 million would mean it couldn’t get accreditation for building standards and would not be approved by The National Archives body.

Three options are being considered – the lowest that would add £435,000 to the cost and the highest £860,000.

“There may also be opportunities for a revenue stream by utilising the car park for pay and display and Ely station users,” says the report.