THE cost of upgrading York's Foss Barrier and Pumping Station has more than doubled - from £17 million to £38 million.

Improvements were planned following the Boxing Day 2015 floods and an Environment Agency spokesman said the work aims to maximise its pumping capacity within the existing footprint of the building.

But the cost of the work has soared due to the complexity and scale of the project.

The spokesman said: “The initial concept was for a broadly ‘like for like’ replacement of the pumping station that would be raised above maximum flood levels, upgraded to current standards with increased pumping capacity.

“Ongoing reviews during the early stages of the works identified the need for greater resilience such as duplication of critical control and reporting systems that would maintain operability if any part of the system failed.

“This subsequent increase in complexity resulted in the need for an extension to the original building, increased time for design, construction and testing, all of which increased the cost.

“An example of this was the temporary platform that we constructed to accommodate the control equipment while the new floor was built on the original building.

“This platform needed to remain in place and in operation for longer than originally intended which increased the overall costs. Another particular constraint was the need for the station to remain fully operational at all times throughout the construction period ensuring that flood protection to the homes and businesses on the lower Foss corridor wasn’t compromised.”

He added that extra improvements will also be made - including the replacement of the gate with a taller one, which is set to be installed later this year - as well as renewing control equipment and raising the flood wall.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, executive member for the environment, said: “The money comes from Westminster, it’s national funding, and will protect hundreds of homes and businesses. Every little bit of it is brand new and will be fit for the next 50 to 60 years.

“They have replaced everything, including the barrier itself.”