New schools bill tops £58m

THE cost of Lyde Green’s much delayed new schools has now reached £58.3 million, South Gloucestershire Council has confirmed.

Work on the ground to build the 900-place secondary school and 420-place primary school on Honeysuckle Road finally got underway this spring.

It is expected to take just over two years, with staff and pupils due to move in from September 2026.

The new figure for the cost of the project was revealed as councillors and school trust leaders visited the site of the schools for an official ground-breaking ceremony in May.

Up until last month the figure given for the overall cost was £41m, and when the two schools were first given the go-ahead by the Department for Education in 2021, the figures quoted were £26m for the secondary school and £8.5m for the primary school – a total of £34.5m.

Spiralling building costs were among the reasons the project has been delayed, to the extent that the schools are now due to open four years later than originally intended.

That has meant hundreds of children whose families moved into Lyde Green expecting schools to be ready for them have had to go to primary and secondary schools elsewhere.

The council says inflation and the pandemic had caused delays and a “significant rise” in costs.

A spokesperson said the £58.3m figure “is the final number for both schools”, after funding agreements and contracts were signed.

Almost £24m is coming from South Gloucestershire Council, and more than £34.3m from the Department of Education under the Free Schools Programme.

The primary school will be run by Castle School Education Trust as a twin school with Lyde Green Primary School in Willowherb Road and the secondary, for 11 to 16-year-olds, will be run by Olympus Academy Trust, which also runs Winterbourne Academy.

The council says the schools will be built to ‘Passivhaus’ standards, so they will be highly energy efficient and cheaper to run than conventional buildings.

BAM has already built Passivhaus schools in Frenchay and Winterbourne.

Council co-leader with responsibility for schools Ian Boulton said: “Since we formed the new administration last year our focus has been to finally deliver these vital schools. 

“I am delighted that we are now able to see construction getting under way and that funding has been secured to deliver these brand-new schools for the local community. 

“I would like to thank our officers and partners who have been working flat out in order to get to this point with a view to meeting the challenging deadlines we have set for ourselves.”

CSET chief executive Will Roberts said the first Lyde Green Primary School now has more than 500 pupils, adding: “Expanding onto a second site will enable us to provide a primary place for every child in the local community.”

Olympus trust chief executive Dave Baker said: “It is with a sense of relief and excitement that we have reached the point where building can start, in order to deliver the high-quality schools that the community in Lyde Green so desperately needs and deserves now.”

Information about admissions for Reception and Year 7 places at the schools “will be announced in due course”, the council says.

The schools’ sports facilities are expected to be ready for community use before the schools, once parking and changing facilities are complete.