An additional £1.6million has been earmarked to progress to the next stage of the Woodlands Meed College new-build project, which will improve facilities for pupils with special educational needs.
West Sussex County Council has a plan in place to start delivering the works and is ready to move forward with the project, the new funds adding to the £20million previously allocated.
Since May 2020, when Cabinet approved the go ahead for the project, costs committed to date for obtaining planning consent and drawing up plans to enable a contractor to be appointed are close to £2million. These actions and costs have been incurred in anticipation that terms would be agreed with the College.
The County Council has now written to college governors to finalise the Development Agreement, a document that needs to be approved by both parties before building work can begin.
The letter calls for the governors to sign the agreement by 4 November so that a construction contract be awarded, enabling builders to be on site by December, and so meet the original completion date of Spring 2023.
Councillor Nigel Jupp, Cabinet Member for Education & Skills said: “West Sussex County Council remains very much committed to Woodland Meed’s 100 pupils and their parents, ensuring they have the facilities that are right for them as soon as possible.
“Following many months of discussion with the college, talking through concerns and issues, I am confident that we now have in place a viable plan to deliver the new build by Spring 2023. I believe that we have found fair, reasonable, and practical solutions for a way forward that will work for all involved.
“It is imperative, therefore, that the Development Agreement be signed. This will enable the agreed construction contract to be awarded so that we can avoid further delays. It will also mean that we can keep to budget and the original completion date, which are very important commitments.
“Further delays would unfortunately and inevitably mean increased costs, which in turn would put increased pressure on our budgets, affecting the viability of the plan and its ability to deliver on time.
“These views have been outlined in a letter to the college, making clear our intention that the agreement be approved by a deadline of 4 November. Meeting this deadline would mean we can progress to the next stage and get the building works underway on site in the weeks before Christmas.”
Two online public meetings will be hosted by West Sussex County Council for the parents/carers of children at Woodlands Meed on Tuesday, 2 November and Wednesday, 3 November, both between 7-8pm. Please register your interest in joining by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org indicating which meeting you’d like to join.
(An extra date has been added because we have been made aware some people are attending a parents evening on the Tuesday night).
Further information about the project can be found on our dedicated Woodlands Meed College rebuild webpage