South Gloucestershire Council says it still needs to secure more funding from the Government to build the new co-located secondary and primary schools in Lyde Green which are woefully behind schedule.
The project to open a secondary school to serve the new estate, and a second primary school, has been pushed back time and time again from the expected opening date of September 2022.
Delays have included a change to location, a change in the sponsor of the secondary school, and a change in builder.
The cost of the scheme was £30m in 2021 but £41m has so far been committed by the council and the Government.
The Olympus Academy Trust will run the secondary school and the Castle School Education Trust (CSET) is due to run the primary school under the Government’s Free Schools programme.
In its latest update, the council, which is now under a new Lib Dem-Labour administration following May’s local elections, said: “We, the Department for Education (DfE), Olympus and CSET remain committed to building and opening these new schools as soon as possible. We recognise and appreciate the frustration shared by all that this project has been delayed.
“Our new administration is keen to get this project finally delivered. We have asked project partners to agree a realistic timeline of key milestones on the journey to the delivery of these new schools. This will allow all stakeholders to understand how the project is being delivered and provide an easy-to-understand indication of the project’s progress.
“Currently, work is under way to finalise plans for the new facilities which, once approved, will allow us to agree the final element of Government funding so that work can begin on site and we can begin to plan for the schools to open. The updated designs will still deliver schools designed to Passivhaus standards of outstanding environmental performance, as well as ensuring that their layout will suit the needs of modern teaching and learning methods.
“Conditions in the construction industry have impacted many projects, including these. Costs have risen significantly, which has meant that we and the DfE, who are providing most of the funding, have had to look again at the designs to make sure they provide the schools we need, but that they are also affordable.
“We are working hard to finalise the designs and secure the remaining funding so that the DfE will be able to confirm opening dates for the new schools. We want this work to start as soon as possible, but we do not want to raise expectations again, only to have to disappoint people later.
“While we are doing everything that we can to deliver the new schools and school places as soon as possible, our close collaboration with existing schools in the local area means that we continue to be able to meet demand for places. This year 96% of families received an offer of a place at one of their preferred secondary schools and 98% received an offer at one of their preferred primary schools.”
Community sports facilities also delayed
The new schools will have sports facilities and a pavilion which the wider community can use. In July 2022 the council said it hoped they would be ready towards the end of 2022. In March of this year it said that opening for community use had been pushed back to “later this year”.
They are now said to be nearing completion and the council hopes to provide another update “in the autumn”.