Winterbourne school delay is a terrible failure, says MP

August 27 2021
Winterbourne school delay is a terrible failure, says MP

A TWO-year delay to the opening of a new primary school building in Winterbourne has been blasted by the area's MP.

Elm Park Primary School in Nicholls Lane was originally due to move into its new building for the start of the new academic year in September.

But work on the site has yet to start, and South Gloucestershire Council says that changes to the plans and delays related to the covid pandemic mean it will not now be ready for staff and pupils to use until September 2023.

The delay has been described as a "terrible failure" by MP Jack Lopresti, whose Filton & Bradley Stoke constituency includes Winterbourne.

Mr Lopresti criticised the council in a Facebook post, accompanied by a picture of him (above) with head teacher Carol Bond at the site of the new building.

He said: "In September last year, I visited Elm Park Primary School in Winterbourne, which was shortly to start work on building South Gloucestershire's first 'Passivhaus' carbon neutral building.

"I came back this week at the head teacher Carol Bond's invitation.

"The site, as you can see, is ready to go – but building work has been so delayed that the School doesn't expect to have their new building before 2023.

"It was meant to open this October."

"This is a terrible failure by the Council to deliver this project.

"I will be writing to councillors and officers to put on record my concern, and will be pushing to see the new school built as soon as possible."

At the time funding was approved in 2019, the council gave this September as the opening date for the school.

The council said the existing building had become expensive to repair and maintain, and will be demolished.

Repairs had been carried out to keep the existing building functional until the move can take place.

A council spokesperson said: “Revised plans for a brand-new building for Elm Park Primary School, built to energy efficient Passivhaus standards, were approved in Spring 2021, funded by a £1.2 million uplift in budget for the scheme.

"The design underlines the council’s commitment to the climate emergency declaration, whilst also ensuring the school’s future energy consumption is substantially reduced, a vision agreed by the headteacher and endorsed by the wider school community.

"The new schedule, which has been affected in-part by factors such as delivering a low-carbon design and the impact of Covid-19, will see the school building open in September 2023 with further enhanced learning environments for local children, (and) superseded the originally proposed plans to open in 2021.

"The redesign process also incorporated the relocation of the building on the site and changes to achieve additional funding from a nearby development to contribute towards the cost of providing the new school."

The change in the plans takes the overall cost of building the school from £4.9 million to £6.1m.