Absestos discovery at campus site raises bill by £1m
Plans for Balloch’s new superschool have hit a £1million stumbling block after asbestos was discovered on the site.
The Lennox Herald can reveal that the deadly material was recently found below the former St Kessog’s school building — adding an eye-watering £936,000 to the bill.
West Dunbartonshire Council says it could not have foreseen the extra cost as the asbestos was only found at previously unaccessible parts of the site.
The setback will also put the whole project back by 12 weeks, with the campus now due to open in winter 2017.
Councillors will be asked to plug the shortfall at a full council meeting next week.
Opposition leader Jonathan McColl sided with the local authority and said officers couldn’t have known what lay beneath, commenting: “To say it’s just one of those things seems too blasé for such a large sum of money, but there really was no way the council
could have known it was there.
“As is standard practice, records for the site were thoroughly checked prior to work starting, but in the early 60s when St Kessog’s was built, asbestos wasn’t considered a dangerous substance, so its presence in the under foundation filler material wasn’t noted.
“There is no asbestos on the rest of the site, just directly under the school, so it wasn’t found until the school was demolished and the foundations dug out.
“The council will have to decide, as part of the budget setting in February next year, how to accommodate the increased cost of the project in the 10 year capital plan.”
Richard Cairns, the council’s strategic director for regeneration, environment and growth, said: “These are essential works which could not have been foreseen.
“We’re now seeking council approval to allow the remediation to be carried out as quickly as possible and this would allow us to get to work on building this fantastic new facility for generations of young people.”
Parents and carers received a letter home yesterday (Tuesday) informing them of the delay.
The new £16.4m campus will be able to accommodate 747 pupils and be located on the site of the former St Kessog’s Primary School, which has already been demolished.
It will house St Kessog’s, as well as a new nondenominational school created through the amalgamation of Jamestown and Haldane primaries, as well as an Additional Support Needs Unit and Early Learning and Education Centre.
A report which goes to the full council next week states that a ground investigation was carried out in all accessible areas prior to the start of the demolition works in September last year.
It reads :“A further ground investigation was carried out during and post-demolition of the St Kessog’s building, once all areas could be accessed. Asbestos was found below the concrete floor slab of the former school building as well as in the previously inaccessible areas of the made ground soils surrounding the former school building.”
The paper adds that the extent of the asbestos does not call the proposed use of the site into question but says it is found at various points over the site, meaning that the remediation poses“a significant financial challenge”.
The council will need to hire a contractor to carry out the work and officers say it is important the contract is let as quickly as possible.
The funds being used are those which were re-allocated when the Scottish Government decided to fully fund the capital for the new Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School.
Officers are asking the council plug the shortfall with £888,000 from the capital plan.
The remaining cash will be bridged with savings realised from funds already allocated to the project.
Masterplan An artist’s impression of the Balloch school campus