A MARINA due open at the turn of the year is still unfinished – and its completion date is now expected to be two years late.
The revamped North Dock in Seaham was supposed be ready to welcome boats in early 2012, after delays knocked back its original date of summer 2010.
Now developers say it will not be ready until May, leading to criticism from the town’s business leaders.
Durham County Council has said the hold-up is down to engineering work to install the gate to the dock.
Sarah Robson, head of economic development at the council, said: “This major regeneration project, with a working dock creating an economic heart for the marina, is both an exciting and complex scheme which will create jobs and breathe new life into the local economy.
“Whilst we accept that the revised opening timescale of May 2012 is a delay, we feel sure that the end result will prove worth the wait.
“The challenges of working in an unpredictable marine environment have made the task even more difficult, but substantive works are now complete.”
The council stated in November the marina would be open by the end of January, eight months after the dock gate was first put in place. The entrance is needed to ensure boats are protected when the tide goes out and from storms.
It has said that element of the project, carried out by contractor Lumsden Carroll, was a challenge “technically and physically” because of the construction of the 19th-century harbour walls.
Adverse weather has also been cited as a cause of delay.
Despite the problems, the project, which will offer 77 berths for boats and a business centre with 11 units, remains on budget at £3.2million.
The Echo understands a dispute between the council and the contractor had to be resolved by an independent chartered architect who sat as an adjudicator.
Neither party would reveal details other than to say the authority’s position was upheld.
The council has had significant interest in the pontoon spaces and is welcoming expressions of interest in the units.
Remaining work, due to start soon under another contractor, includes barriers and notices, with improvements to the entrance off North Terrace complete.
Preparing a lifeboat house as part of a heritage programme and a new home for the restored George Elmy are also due to start alongside the remaining work.