THE design of Halton's hi-tech art centre has gone back to the drawing board after firms invited to tender for the construction job revealed they could not complete the job within the £5.5m budget.
Now luxury items such as maple wood floors and some wall coverings are to be axed to make sure work can be completed by next December.
The arts centre will house a 430-seat auditorium, a 120-seater studio, an arts workroom, an exhibition space, a music rehearsal room, a darkroom, a digital imaging room, a café and bar.
In April stars from Channel 4 soaps Hollyoaks and Brookside attended a sod-cutting ceremony at the proposed centre site in Camden Gardens, near the Bridgewater Canal in Runcorn Old Town.
But now Halton Borough Council leader Cllr Tony McDermott has revealed that firms invited to tender for the project have indicated that the budget is not big enough to cover all costs of the design.
The council secured funding for the centre last year when its £2.5m bid to the Arts Council of England was accepted.
The remainder of the funding for the project has come from the council, the Northwest Development Agency, the single Regeneration Budget, the Halton Partnership and the North West Arts Board.
Cllr McDermott, who described the centre as the 'jewel in the crown' of the borough's redevelopment plans, said: 'The message coming back during the tendering process is that some parts of the design will have to be abandoned if the job is to come in on budget.
'This will not affect the overall design too much. There are certain things such as the provision of maplewood floors which may have to go, but these are just minor things as far as we are concerned.
'The most important thing, is that the arts centre opens its doors in December as we have always intended it should.
'There is a wealth of artistic talent and creativity in Halton and this new development will provide much needed, accessible, high quality facilities to demonstrate this.'
A spokesman for the Northwest Development Agency said: 'This is an essential project. It forms one of the many schemes we are investing in for the regeneration of Runcorn and is expected to play an important role in revitalising the Old Town. We are very pleased to be supporting this venture.'