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Fab four fight over music hall revamp

CONTRACTS - BRISTOL

A CONTRACTORS' version of a battle of the bands is lined up with four firms competing to revamp a concert hall that has hosted some of Britain's most famous pop stars.

Colston Hall in Bristol is the south-west's largest music venue and in the past has been visited by the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Five Star.

It is also the hall where the Beatles were covered in f lour by students during a concert in 1964.

Local firm Cowlin is up against HBG, Laing O'Rourke and Willmott Dixon for the £50 million refurbishment. A total of eight firms were hoping to make the final cut.

Venue owner Bristol City Council advertised the work in the Official Journal in August and hopes to send out tenders at the beginning of next year.

The project was originally expected to cost around £90 million but the plans were scaled back earlier in the year because of funding problems.

When the notice was placed on the Official Journal the value was around £60 million.

That is now believed to have been pared back by a further £10 million and the value may be cut again.

Work has been divided into two phases, down from the three announced in the advertisement. The council is hoping the winning contractor will be able to stay on site to continue with the second phase straight after completion of the first.

The city centre venue, which seats around 1,800 people and was opened in its present form in 1867, will undergo extensive refurbishment, with new build work lined up as well.

Construction will get under way with the demolition of Colston House, next to the hall, in November next year. This will make room for a new foyer on which work will start around six months later.

The first phase is due to be finished in November 2008. An end date for the second phase has not yet been decided.

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