AstraZeneca cans HQ contractor and delays glitzy £500M project—again

AstraZeneca hoped to start moving into its new HQ and R&D site in Cambridge, U.K., by 2016. Now, it's aiming for 2020. (Pixabay)

AstraZeneca staffers eager to move into pricey, brand-new headquarters and R&D facility in Cambridge, U.K., will have to keep waiting. After numerous delays and cost overruns, the company confirmed that once again, it’s pushing back its move-in date.

The drugmaker originally planned to begin moving in at its new site in 2016. Most recently, the move was expected to happen by the end of this year. But on Wednesday, a spokesperson confirmed the drugmaker is now eyeing a move-in beginning in the first half of 2020.

Couple those delays with ballooning costs—to an estimated £500 million from £330 million—and it's no wonder AstraZeneca is now parting ways with its contractor, as the spokesman confirmed.

The company has “agreed to transition from Skanska to Mace as the Construction Manager for the scientific fit-out and commissioning phase of the project.” The development follows a report last week in Construction Enquirer that AstraZeneca was in talks to replace Skanska.

The U.K. drug giant first announced its new headquarters project way back in 2013. At the time, the company said the new site would cost £330 million, or about $426 million at current exchange rates. The latest figure—£500 million—equates to $645 million.

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A source told Construction Enquirer that some of the delay has been caused by a high water table on the site that required “a lot of remedial work,” plus design and other challenges. Aside from those issues, some excess cost can be attributed to new capabilities added to R&D labs after the buildings were first conceived, such as robotics, a spokesperson previously told FierceBiotech.