Building of new school in Northampton is ‘significant challenge’ and £4.7 million over budget

Former Royal mail sorting office, 55 Barrack Road, Northampton. ENGNNL00120131007142350

Former Royal mail sorting office, 55 Barrack Road, Northampton. ENGNNL00120131007142350

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The opening of a new school in Northampton on the site of a former Royal Mail sorting office has become a “significant challenge” and requires a larger budget, the county council has revealed.

A report due to be discussed at a cabinet meeting next week states the Northampton International Academy, in Barrack Road, needs to enter into a number of “urgent contracts” in order to deliver the project on time.

Artist's impression of the Northampton International Academy which is being built  in the former Royal Mail office on Barrack Road, Northampton. A science lab. NNL-150909-120914001

Artist's impression of the Northampton International Academy which is being built in the former Royal Mail office on Barrack Road, Northampton. A science lab. NNL-150909-120914001

The renovation of the building, which is being financed by the Education Funding Agency (EFA), will now cost £34.7 million, up from the £30 million budget announced earlier this year.

A group of 150 Year Seven pupils at the EMLC Trust-sponsored school are currently being taught in temporary classrooms at the back of the site, and 30 reception children are being taught at nearby Castle Academy.

It is hoped these children, as well as a new group of up to 300 pupils, will move into the Barrack Road building in September next year.

However, the cabinet report expresses concerns about whether the building will be fully complete in time.

Artist's impression of the Northampton International Academy which is being built  in the former Royal Mail office on Barrack Road, Northampton NNL-150909-120938001

Artist's impression of the Northampton International Academy which is being built in the former Royal Mail office on Barrack Road, Northampton NNL-150909-120938001

The report states: “The programme for the full building opening in September 2017 has become a significant challenge due to the requirement for extensive value-engineering of the design for the permanent accommodation in order to meet the Capital allocation provided by EFA.

“Alternative plans are being developed to accelerate the works, including the consideration of a phased opening, and a number of urgent contracts are needed to be entered into in order to deliver the project on time and avoid any major delays.”

The report states the extra money from the EFA should ensure that the school building conversion is completed without any money from the county council.

It states: “The current cost plan is now within the funding envelope secured from the EFA and no local funding from the council is required.”

Councillor Matthew Golby, cabinet member for children’s services, said the county council was “determined” to make sure the school building was ready by September.

He said: “Northamptonshire is seeing a huge growth in pupil numbers but we are successfully meeting that demand for additional school places. Northampton International Academy is an important part of our strategy for providing those extra school places in Northampton.

“The school will be the largest in the town and is one of the largest capital projects the council is currently delivering. We are determined that it will be ready to take pupils from next September.”