Probe finds V&A Dundee “had little prospect” of being delivered on budget

Dundee City Council has published a detailed report which suggests several key reasons that the project overshot its budget.



A review published by Dundee City Council into the construction costs of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee suggests that the project, which has cost £31 million more than expected “had little prospect of being delivered for the original budget” for several reasons.

Procurement expert John McClelland was commissioned by councilors to look into why estimated construction costs have spiraled and if any recommendations could be made to help deliver the project efficiently.

Costs of building offshore

Among his findings were discrepancies in the projected costs of building offshore but he argues that communication problems between the partners that make up Design Dundee (DDL) are largely to blame.

DDL is made up of V&A, the University of Dundee, the University of Abertay Dundee, Dundee City Council and Scottish Enterprise.

Budget stretches from £49 million to £80 million

McClelland suggests that the budget stretching from £49 million to £80 million was largely because of the construction costs, which were initially predicted to be £27 million but rose to over £60 million.

“There was a mismatch between the lower aspirations for the building’s design on which the £27 million budget was based and the elite level of the design implied in the competition brief and eventually selected by the Panel,” he says.

McClelland also finds that more professional support could have been given to the Judging Panel – which selected a design by Kengo Kuma – to investigate cost projections.

Dundee City Council

He finds other partners accountable, including Dundee Council and says: “Dundee City Council continued to treat the V&A project as an external partnership venture and did not integrate it into the normal work of the Council in the same way as other construction projects.”

In summary he says: “In my opinion this project had, from the beginning, little prospect of being delivered for the original budget due to an accumulation of factors that mitigated against that outcome being achieved.”


Eight recommendations are made to help improve the efficiency of the project.

Several of these are leveled at Dundee City Council which McClelland says “should fully adopt and integrate the V&A project into its existing structures for dealing with construction projects and fully allocate accountability and responsibility across appropriate Council functions and departments.”

According to McClelland this has already been implemented prior to the publication of the report.

In 2010 a budget of £4.8 million was set aside for furniture, fittings and equipment housed inside the museum when complete.

McClelland suggests that there should be an “urgent review to reconfirm that value or take appropriate action”.

Design Dundee Limited

A spokesperson for Design Dundee Limited says:

“We welcome the John McClelland review and that its focus has been to ensure successful delivery of V&A Dundee.

“We acknowledge the findings and we will now work with Dundee City Council to take forward Mr McClelland’s recommendations and to continue to realise this outstanding building that will house Scotland’s first museum of design.”

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