artist's impression of the new school
An artist\'s impression of the new Maendy Primary School, Cwmbran. Picture: Torfaen County Borough Council

THE cost of rebuilding a Cwmbran primary school has increased by more than £5 million since September to a total of £17.1 million. 

“Highly inflated” prices impacting the construction industry globally have been blamed for the steep rise in costs as well as “difficult” site conditions at Maendy Primary School in Cwmbran, which is to be demolished and replaced with a new building and revamped school grounds. 

The Welsh Government is providing £11.9 million towards the cost, with Torfaen County Borough Council putting in £4.9 million for what will be the council’s first low-carbon, energy-efficient school project. 

The Welsh Government has provided additional grant funding due to the escalating costs. 

The development will increase the capacity of the school from 231 to 420 places and the nursery from 24 to 30 places. 

Pre-construction work has now concluded, and the council has agreed to award a construction contract worth £15.3 million to the main contractor. 

The total stands at just over £17.1 million, with £1.8 million having already been spent, or allocated on costs other than construction including design and other fees. 

A report for the council’s cabinet stated: “The total development cost equates to £17,131,842 which is £5,049,842 more than the September 2022 project budget. 

“The budget differential can be attributed to: Project abnormals (difficult site conditions) [and] Highly inflated market conditions which is being experienced throughout the construction industry”. 

Planning permission for the replacement of the school buildings, the infants block and the two-story junior school that were built in 1958 and 1962 respectively, was given by the council’s planning committee in January this year. 

Plans to replace the school were announced in February 2020, prompted by a maintenance backlog on the ageing buildings and increased demand due to a 1,200 home development under way in south Sebastapool. 

At that time it was anticipated the total cost of the replacement school would be £11.49 million, with the Welsh Government providing £7.45 million, and the  remainin £4.4 million by the council. 

This week’s decision was taken by chief executive Stephen Vickers, in consultation with leader Anthony Hunt, rather than through the cabinet as a timely decision had to be made but most council business had been suspended following the Queen’s death. 

The council has also said that 85 per cent of the main contractor’s supply chain will be what is described as “Welsh, local labour” in accordance with Welsh Government funding criteria.