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Discovery of underground streams adds undisclosed 'significant' sum to costs for Bishop's Stortford High School





The discovery of underground streams means a "significant" but undisclosed sum of money will be required to complete the new Bishop's Stortford High School.

The extra cash for contractors was approved by local education authority Hertfordshire County Council's cabinet at a meeting on Monday (November 14).

The funding is on top of the £45.3m executive members agreed in 2019 to spend to relocate the school from London Road to a larger site nearby at the new St James' Park estate.

CGI image of the new Bishop's Stortford High School (60726407)
CGI image of the new Bishop's Stortford High School (60726407)

The authority's Conservative leader, Cllr Richard Roberts, said: "In layman's terms, the underground streams were discovered and flooded the site. These were not picked up during the initial survey work. A solution has been found but there's a cost attached to it. It is significant, which is why we do need to look at that before we proceed."

He added that the building project was "back on track" after discovery of the waterways.

A report, introduced by the council's executive member for education Cllr Terry Douris, said: "The project will deliver brand new state-of-the-art buildings for the school in a new housing development at St James Way.

Cllr Terry Douris is Herts County Council's executive member for education
Cllr Terry Douris is Herts County Council's executive member for education

"The building project was due to complete to enable a move into the new buildings for September 2024. However, discovery of underground streams affecting the development site led to a cessation of construction activity and a redesign of the foundations for the new school buildings.

"As a result, the estimated costs of the project are now exceeding the funding available."

Existing finance for the scheme included proceeds of the sale of the school's current London Road site for new homes and an £11.2m Department for Education grant.

When the spending was approved – before the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020 and inflation pressures in 2022 – the project was due to be completed by March 31 this year.

The Bishop's Stortford High School in London Road
The Bishop's Stortford High School in London Road

Council cabinet members heard the additional funding figure behind closed doors. "The figures are confidential as they are commercially sensitive," a council spokesman said.

The school is set to accommodate 900 pupils in Years 7 to 11 plus 400 sixth-form students, with the potential to accommodate 1,200 pupils plus 450 sixth-formers in the future.

Original plans featured a six-court sports hall, a four-tennis court multi-use games area, a full-size grass football pitch, an eight-lane grass athletics track and a drama studio.



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