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The Biggest UK projects to succeed and flop

21 Sep 2018

In light of the current troubles experienced at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, PSR explored 3 of the most expensive UK projects which were a success and 3 UK projects which went awfully wrong and how they compare to the ongoing project in Tottenham.

Most costly that succeeded 

The 2012 London Olympics –

A huge project renovating the Stratford area and then building eight world-class facilities from the Olympic Stadium (now the London Stadium) to the London Aquatics Centre to showcase to the world. Not only was the Olympic Park completed on time, but it spend 23.6% less than its planned cost.

  • Commenced: 2008
  • Completed: 2011
  • Delay: None
  • Planned Cost: £8.77bn 
  • Final Cost: £6.7bn
  • Workers: 80,000

The Channel Tunnel -

It was the most expensive construction project ever in 1985 at £5.5 billion, but deaths and an increase in cost of 42.1% made the construction of the Channel Tunnel far from easy.

  • Commenced: 1988
  • Completed: 1994
  • Delay: None
  • Planned Cost: £5.5bn
  • Final Cost: £9.5bn
  • Workers: 13,000

High Speed One (HS1)

HS1 was put into action in the mid-90’s for the need of improving Britain’s railway access to the Channel Tunnel link. The project supported those in the areas of Greater London, Essex, Kent and those in the South East of the UK.

  • Commenced: 1996
  • Completed: 2007
  • Delay: None
  • Final Cost: £5.8bn


Most costly which failed –

The Millennium Dome (The O2 Arena) –

A venue now known for hosting some of the biggest entertainment and sporting events in the world had a difficult birth after being completed on the eve of the new millennium. The venues initial goal was to showcase various attractions and exhibits, but financial mismanagement and a wayward forecast of expected visitors, meant the venue wasn’t generating enough income. Funding from the National Lottery didn’t save the sorry state of the Dome and meant the venue closed within a year of opening. Redevelopment work and the rebranding to the O2 Arena saved the venue from flopping completely.

  • Commenced: 1997
  • Completed: 1999
  • Delay: None
  • Final Cost: £789m (£1.25bn in today’s money)

Wembley Stadium –

The home of football Wembley experienced a bumpy start to life with disputes and issues relating to the roof design, the famous arch and the ground works. Alongside this, legal bills racked up the cost from what was a moderate cost overrun initially.

  • Commenced: 2002
  • Completed: 2007
  • Delay: 1 year
  • Final Cost: £1bn (32% increased cost)

Scottish Parliament –

Once building work had begun on Scottish Parliament, changes to the size, scale and specification of the original plan meant huge delays and significant overspend. A public inquiry was launched, criticising the fast-track Construction Management procurement route. An original £50m estimated cost soon escalated into £414m total cost, labelling it one of the most spectacular construction fails ever.

  • Commenced: 1999
  • Completed: 2004
  • Delay: 3 years
  • Final Cost: £414m (730% increased cost)

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is facing huge demands from all parties involved and the stress' and demands are straining into the public eye which is damaging the reputation of a soon to be world class stadium and Tottenham Hotspur football club. 

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