Complications set Northampton International Academy construction back 18 weeks and £10m over-budget

Pupils at the Northampton International Academy will have to move into a 3 million modular building during the first weeks of the new term, reports revealed.
Pupils at the Northampton International Academy will have to move into a 3 million modular building during the first weeks of the new term, reports revealed.

A massive new school set to open in a matter of months in Northampton is running 18 weeks behind schedule and £10.2 million over budget, a report has revealed.

Papers show that complications in renovating the former Royal Mail sorting office at Barrack Road have pushed the full opening of Northampton International Academy back by three and a half-months.

Artists' impressions of the completed academy.

Artists' impressions of the completed academy.

It means around 450 students will spend the opening weeks of the new term in a temporary modular building.

It also means the project manager Northamptonshire County Council is currently liable for a £10.2 million funding gap, unless it can get more money from the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

The delays have been detailed in the latest progress report about the scheme set to go before the council's cabinet next week.

"(Builder) VCUK is reporting an 18-week delay to the original project completion date," the report states.

A view from inside the former sorting office taken in 2015.

A view from inside the former sorting office taken in 2015.

"This is principally due to the delays in the issue of design amendments for the mezzanine floor, which is required to address defects with the original building construction."

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

Speaking to the Chron in September last year, principal of the school Roger Whittall, said “It has to be ready for next September. We have no room to expand on the temporary site."

An artist's impression of the academy.

An artist's impression of the academy.

However, a county council spokeswoman has confirmed the new cohort will move into a purpose built modular building, costing more than £3 million.

“Northampton International Academy is an exciting project that will regenerate a deprived part of Northampton and create 2,200 much-needed school places right where they are most needed – in the heart of the town," she said.

"We look forward to welcoming the new reception and year 7 intake this September and would like to reassure parents that we are putting in place additional high-quality temporary accommodation on site.

"This three-storey building will deliver modern, fit-for-purpose teaching space including an IT lab and home economics classroom, all designed to deliver the very best standards of education in partnership with the academy sponsor the EMLC Trust.”

An artist's impression of the academy.

An artist's impression of the academy.

The building work so far has been financed by a £34.7 million grant from the Education Funding Agency, (EFA) but the county council says it will need a further £10.2 million to complete the work now.

The scheme was originally projected to cost just £20 million, but with the additional works, the final figure could be more than double that at £44.7 million.

The report states that insufficient survey work was carried out on the former sorting office before starting construction, such was the need to progress the funding application with the EFA.

And the cabinet papers recommend that, due to the extra complications with the building, it would be "prudent to increase the fees for the professional team to reflect both the
increased value of the construction contract and also the prolongation of the project".

This, the report adds, will put an extra £1.23 million on the project.

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