Costs of expanding a Barnsley secondary school to cope with an additional 250 pupils have already more than doubled and councillors are now being warned the bill may increase further as the work progresses.
Penistone Grammar School was built as part of the PFI scheme which saw a network of large, modern learning centres replace Barnsley’s traditional secondary schools several years ago, but widespread development in the district and demand for places at the school means it now needs 250 extra places.
Some of those are being provided through internal remodelling but the bulk of the cost will come from the construction of a two storey extension, which is now running behind schedule.
When the scheme was approved, the council’s ruling Cabinet was told the bill would be just over £2m, but a new report has increased that cost to more than £4.2m.
That is largely because of the school’s position in a conservation area, surrounded by green belt.
It means a planned two storey extension now has to be designed on a sunken basis to ensure its impact on the area is acceptable and that is a more expensive way to build.
Some of the cost will be covered through a Government grant and it is proposed the rest will be made up in ‘Section 106’ payments, the money provided by developers to meet the financial impact new housing has on communities.
Part of the increased cost comes from a highways assessment, which has deemed an additional pedestrian crossing will be needed, adding to the bill.
Pressures over completing the internal changes in time for the September term added to costs, because shift working had to be introduced to ensure the work was done on time.
The timescale for the next phase, the extension, has been put back to September next year for completion, later than originally planned.
A report to councillors states: “It should be noted that the completion date is later than originally planned as a result of time loss from the concentration on phase one works and aligning with Planning Committee dates.
“The revised programme and implications from a later completion date have been discussed and accepted by the school.
“The current construction cost estimate for phase two works is £2.954m, exceeding the original quote of £1.241m by £1.713m.
“There is a risk that costs may increase further.”
However, work will be done to “value engineer costs down as far as possible” they are told.
“In addition there is a planning requirement that in order for the surrounding infrastructure to deal effectively and safely with the increased number of pupils accessing the school on foot that the footpath is widened and a pedestrian crossing is installed on Huddersfield Road which is adjacent to the school.”
That will add £200,000 to the cost and the council itself is facing legal bills totalling £50,000 because of the complications of the grammer school being a PFI site, meaning it is operated by an outside body.