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Costs for new Welsh-medium school increase to £16.3 million

01 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Picture: TACP Architects Ltd design and access statement.

Bruce Sinclair, local democracy reporter

Costs for a new 240-pupil Welsh-medium 3-11 school in mid Ceredigion have risen to an estimated £16.3m, with the council’s contribution expected to rise by £1.1m.

Last month, Ceredigion County Council’s Development Management Committee supported an application to build Aeron Valley Primary School on a greenfield site at Felinfach, on the road from Aberaeron to Lampeter.

The new school will bring together three primary schools: Ciliau Parc Primary, Dihewyd Primary and Felinfach Primary, as well as the existing Ysgol Feithrin; and Language immersion Centre at Felinfach.

At the June 6 meeting of the council’s Cabinet, members will receive a report on the progression of the project, outlining key milestones to date and highlighting increases in costs.

A report for members says the latest total overall project cost is now expected to be £16.3m, which includes a proposed main build construction contract of c£14.7m.

Welsh Government grant

The main part of the scheme is expected to be funded by a Welsh Government grant of 65 per cent, with some smaller elements having higher rates.

C Wynne & Sons Ltd (trading as Wynne Construction) was appointed in July 2022 to deliver the school in the Aeron valley – Ysgol Dyffryn Aeron.

A Full Business Case (FBC) for the match-funded project was submitted to Welsh Government on May 5 of this year, which is due to be considered later this month.

It is expected grants – if approved – would be finalised by July.

To enable a start on site, the council’s delivery team has identified works which could be done prior to the receipt of formal grant offer documents, through a ‘Letter of Intent,’ the report says.

The actual expense incurred during the period covered by the proposed ‘Letter of Intent’ would be deducted from the final agreed contract sum.

Match funding

The report adds: “Due to the increase in total cost, the council’s matched funding contribution will need to increase from the current c£3.5m set aside up to c£4.6m, with an additional c£1.1m being required from a combination of capital receipts and the Core Capital Programme.

“Officers have been proactive and mitigated a potentially larger increase by presenting a business case for Welsh Government funding for various components at higher grant intervention rates.”

The report concludes by saying the council is fully committed to the scheme, adding: “The council has protected itself as far as is reasonably possible by taking appropriate legal advice on the contents of a proposed ‘Letter of Intent’.”

Cabinet is asked to approve the Letter of Intent to a maximum value of £1.276m and to accept the tender for the build contract of £14,656,660; the contract only proceeding after confirmation of funding is formally notified.

Members are also asked to note that, assuming the business case is approved, there will be a requirement for an additional £1.1m of council matched funding to be set aside.

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