20 “commercially unattractive” schools removed from PSBP05-12-2014
The government have removed 20 schools from the Priority School Building Programme to try to make the packages more attractive to bidders due to a lack of interest in the scheme.
This trend started in September when the Education Funding Agency failed to attract any bidders for three priority school batches due to tight margins. Other warning lights have come on as BAM pulled out of a £50m batch of schools when they failed to agree pricing, raising concerns about the viability of the government’s low cost school building model. It is a particular issue in the South East where contractors and consultants have rising costs, along with limited resource and cashflow, and are seeking more lucrative opportunities in other Sectors. It’s one thing delivering schools 20% cheaper, which most contractors can now just about demonstrate is achievable (new-build not refurbishment) but then to win the bid they have to offer a further discount to the LEA’s which is making the projects financially unviable.
Many architects and designers are concerned about the lack of consultation time on the PSBP projects, as they feel that a lack of consultation time will compromise on site-specific requirements. However, with such tight timescales to deliver the additional school places, you can see the need for central government to keep the momentum up on the entire scheme.