Multi-million-pound school building project in Northampton hailed a ‘dog’s dinner’ as it goes £11.4m over budget

An artist's impression of the new school in Barrack Road, Northampton
An artist's impression of the new school in Barrack Road, Northampton

A new school heralded as one of Northampton’s key regeneration projects has gone £11.4m over budget and a broke county council  is having to pick up the tab to make sure it opens in time.

The Northampton International Academy in Barrack Road has been plagued with problems since construction began and the formerly expensive £34.7 million building is now set to cost a £46.4 million.

Concrete cancer, soil contamination and problems with the condition of the former Royal Mail sorting office, has seen the costs soar.

Northamptonshire County Council, which managed the project, has now had to contract specialists to make sure the building opens in time this September.

Pupils are currently being schooled in on-site temporary accommodation which has cost £3.6m this year.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday at which the extra funds were approved, Cllr Winston Strachan, who represents Northampton’s Castle Ward said the council had made a “dogs dinner” of the school project, which is being built by Vinci Construction UK.

He told the newly appointed cabinet which is lead by Cllr Matt Golby: “I have been a supporter of the school since day one and it could bring benefits to local people. However, you have really made a dog’s dinner of it.”

The authority, which is almost penniless and at risk of being put into the hands of central government after mismanagement by officers and councillors, is attempting to recover the £11.4 million from the Education Funding Agency. However, it is uncertain whether the agency will hand over any more funds.

The £11.4 million is coming from the Basic School Needs budget, plus money given to the authority by developers and discretionary capital funding, so there will be less money to go round to other schools.

But if NCC does not pay the additional funds, the school will not be ready for a September opening. The school, which is sponsored by EMLC Academy Trust, will include a primary and secondary provision and will eventually accommodate up to 2,200 pupils when at full capacity.