A MULTI-MILLION pound overspend on a major infrastructure project was criticised yesterday with opposition politicians telling the Administration: “We can’t go on like this.”

Rebuilding Shelter Hall at the foot of West Street, Brighton, is now projected to cost twice the original budget of around £10m, and the project will last almost twice as long as planned.

Conservative Group leader Councillor Tony Janio asked a meeting of the city council’s policy and resources committee how dramatically larger projects like planned changes to the Brighton Centre could now be expected to overrun.

The Shelter Hall project which began in late 2015 with a £9 million government grant, will build a replacement building intended to house a top restaurant.

The Hall, at 150-154 Kings Road Arches, was built in the 1880s supporting the upper promenade and the highway.

This is now the main coastal route through the city and engineers are rebuilding it underneath the road.

The council had originally been working to a budget of £10.6m. So far £12.2m has been spent.

Now a new report recommends investing an extra £7m, partly to cover the cost of complex engineering works which have proved necessary, and partly to create a larger and more attractive venue.

As well as costing more, the project’s complexity means it will take longer. It had originally been expected to complete this summer. It is now likely to be autumn 2019.

Much of the extra money will come from central government. The committee voted in favour of finding the additional £1-2m which must come from the city budget.

But Councillor Janio said: “What’s going to be reduced in the city to help fund this?

“What’s going to happen to the Brighton Centre, or the waterfront?

“You can’t keep coming back to this committee and asking for millions. The city deserves better.”

He called on the council to anticipate cost overruns more accurately.

Lead member for environment, transport and sustainability, Councillor Gill Mitchell pointed out that when the initial budget was drawn up, many of the complexities facing the project were unknown and could not have been anticipated.

Green finance lead councillor Ollie Sykes said: “This project started off trying to do one thing but ended up doing something else which is rebuilding the A259 - so it’s not surprising it’s costing more.”

There are a number of project elements which require extra funding in the coming months.