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Delays and spiralling costs hit major upgrade of Swansea secondary school

26 Jul 2022 2 minute read
A new two-storey extension at Bishopston Comprehensive.

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

Delays and rising costs have affected a major upgrade of a Swansea secondary school.

The 10-month remodelling of Bishopston Comprehensive School, Gower, has been held up by 22 weeks – and its £13.8 million project cost has increased to £15.1 million.

Cabinet members have agreed to allocate the extra funding needed. Cllr Robert Smith, who has the school’s portfolio, said the work being carried out would provide facilities fit for purpose at Bishopston for the 21st Century.

“As the (cabinet) report indicates, a number of factors during the remodelling have identified cost pressures and increasing costs arising from those works,” he said.

The scheme includes the refurbishment of existing buildings, plus a two-storey extension to replace demountable classrooms and a single-storey extension to create a new reception area.

The report said the project was originally estimated at £11.8 million before being revised to £13.8 million. Work got underway in June 2020 when the Covid pandemic was in full effect.

Building materials have become more expensive, and other issues have arisen – some relating to problems with the existing buildings.

Maintenance backlog

As well as providing better classrooms the project is expected to reduce the school’s £3.3 million maintenance backlog significantly, according to the cabinet report.

Most of the money for the project is coming from a Welsh Government schools programme – the Welsh Government pays 65% of this, the council 35%. Several more Swansea schools will benefit from this programme.

At the same meeting, the cabinet also approved £1.4 million of Welsh Government capital funding to help schools stay open outside of normal hours to host community projects. Also approved was £1.8 million of Cardiff Bay cash to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils in the county.

Cabinet also committed £1.2 million to a new all-weather sports pitch and fencing at Olchfa School, Sketty. This is to be funded from the proceeds of the sale of land deemed surplus at the school to a housing developer called Westacres Ltd, which now has planning consent for 101 houses and flats.

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