CONSTRUCTION of Croft School is finally completed – four months after opening to its first pupils.
Swindon Council originally hoped its flagship school, next to Croft Sports Centre, off Marlboro-ugh Lane, would be fully completed in time for its opening in September, but delays in gaining planning approval meant only the parts of the building needed for the first intake of reception pupils were finished.
The Conservative cabinet was confident the main contractor, Swindon Commercial Services, would complete the rest of the project before Christmas but, due to groundworks delays blamed on the wet spring and summer, it was granted an extension until last week.
Swindon Council has now confirmed the school building was formally handed over at the end of last week to the White Horse Federation, which runs the school. However, contractors may have to return to deal with issues which only become apparent after use.
The final cost of the project is yet to be determined. In September, the Adver revealed the council originally aimed for a cost of £4.5m, but it was forced to dip into a £500,000 contingency budget for unforeseen work.
It was also expected to use £200,000 from the capital budget.
Croft School is the first school to be built under the council’s own modular Class Solutions design, which the council is trying to sell to other authorities on the basis it is one-third cheaper to build than a traditional school, quicker to construct and cheaper to run and maintain.
Despite the predicted overspend on construction, the school’s salary costs, estimated at £185,000, turned out to be £111,000, resulting in an underspend of £74,000.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “The building work at the Croft School is now completed. “There will be visits by individual contractors over the next few weeks to fix any minor issues identified by the school operators and the council, but that is normal with any major building project.
“The final cost of building the school will be known within the next three months, once we’ve agreed all the bills. “What we do know is that the design will allow the overall cost to be significantly cheaper than a conventionally-built school, without compromising the quality of the teaching and learning space.”
Croft campaigner Kareen Boyd, of Hesketh Crescent, questioned whether the school was completed.
She said: “It’s either built or it isn’t and there’s no fencing at all between the car park and the school, and the fencing isn’t in for the playground.” She said she had also brought up concerns with councillors Rod Bluh and Brian Mattock (both Con, Old Town) that another access road seemed to be under construction off the narrow Hesketh Crescent.
A Swindon Council spokesman said some fencing needed to be increased in height but the area it was around was not used by the pupils, so it was not a safety issue.
Council leader Rod Bluh said he was delighted the school was finished .
He said workmen were creating an access road for emergency vehicles only which would be fenced off with a normal height kerb.
Coun Nadine Watts (Lab, Old Town) said: “I am surprised that completion has been announced as of today, as there are still trades and heavy plant machinery on site and working. “Residents living nearby to the school have had to put with an awful lot of disruption while the school has been built, so it was disappointing that it took longer than expected to complete the school.”