Colleges forced into huge cutbacks on project sustainability, scope and design to win LSC funding

The 12 colleges that received funding from the Learning and Skills Council last week were forced to make swingeing cuts to the sustainability, scope and design of their projects to reach a funding settlement.

Barnsley college abandoned plans to reach the BREEAM “excellent” rating, settling instead for the minimum target of “very good” to cut project costs from £55.2m to £45.9m.

The new plans also had reduced hard landscaping, substituted a glass roof for an ETFE one, used cheaper paint and has a contingency fund of £1m instead of £3m.

College principal Colin Booth said: “The changes give you an idea of the level of detail that the LSC forced us to go into.”

BAM Construction, which is working on four college projects, said clients had been forced to abandon parts of some schemes, introduce elements of refurbishment and carry out traditional value engineering exercises. BAM said it had reduced capital costs by between 10% and 20%.

We’ve had to go for the minimum. It’s a concern in terms of running costs

Member of Barnsley team

A member of the Barnsley project team said: “We’ve had to go for minimum sustainability rather than as much as possible. It’s a concern in terms of ongoing running costs for the client and new Building Regulations coming in.”

In July the LSC said 13 colleges would be able to push ahead with development plans following the debacle over funding that left a further 131 out of pocket.

Twelve of those received sign off last Friday after reworking designs to cut costs. The 13th, The Manchester College, is still waiting for approval.

The LSC also confirmed that a further project, the £41m Skelmersdale and Ormskirk College could bid for funding. However, it said funding would have to come from the same £300m pot as the 12 schemes given the go-ahead this week.