New school already more than £4m over budget, report reveals

The budget for a new Galashiels Academy is already almost £4.5m over budget without a brick yet being laid, a council report reveals.
Galashiels Campus vision. Image: JM Architects.Galashiels Campus vision. Image: JM Architects.
Galashiels Campus vision. Image: JM Architects.

Spiralling construction costs and ongoing inflationary pressures have been blamed for the price hike.

Plans to replace the existing academy with a £60m state-of-the-art community campus on the town’s Scott Park were unanimously endorsed by the local authority’s Planning and Building Standards Committee in September last year.

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The council has appointed Hub South East Scotland Ltd (HubSE) to act as the private sector development partner for the delivery of this detailed design, procurement and construction stage.

This is a tried and tested relationship that was used to deliver Kelso High School and Jedburgh Grammar Campus.

The project team has cost advisers and in the summer of 2022 the project was reporting a revised budget of £60.155m.

However, the cost has increased by £4.345m due to a “volatile construction market” and “inflationary pressures that have resulted from a range of worldwide events”.

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Soaring construction costs have also seen the budget for a new primary school in Earlston rocket from £12.3m to £16.6m, councillors were informed last month.

A report, approved by John Curry, SBC’s service director for Infrastructure & Environment, says: “Given these volatile construction market conditions, the overall tender return figure by Morrison Construction is some £4.345m above the budget included within the February 2023 Capital Investment Plan.

“The project team have undertaken a review of some of the specifications and materials within the project to see if changes can be made. At the time of writing this report, this process continues.”

As part of the planning process and design development, the project had made an allowance to replace the current external tennis facility adjacent to the existing Academy building.

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This facility, run by Tennis Borders in conjunction with Live Borders, acted in a regional capacity to allow for a coaching and activity-based tennis programme.

As part of the stakeholder engagement, an opportunity has been seen to provide for an all-weather covering to this replacement tennis facility.

When members of Scottish Borders Council meet on Thursday, June 29, they will be recommended to delegate Mr Curry, in conjunction with the council’s Chief Financial Officer, the authority to conclude the contract with Hub South East Scotland Ltd at a budget no greater than £64.5M, thus allowing the project to proceed to construction.