Extra £200,000 needed for school athletics track and pitch project

Rising costs mean the development at Mearns Castle High School is now expected to cost £1.94m rather than £1.73m.

Extra £200,000 needed for Mearns Castle High School athletics track and pitch project Gmcoop via iStock

Extra funding of around £200,000 is needed for a new all-weather athletics track and artificial pitch at a school in Newton Mearns.

Rising costs related to Covid mean the development at Mearns Castle High School is now expected to cost £1.94m rather than £1.73m.

Cabinet members at East Renfrewshire Council will be asked to approve using money from an underspend in the education department’s budget to cover the increased price when they meet on Thursday.

A new pitch is being developed as the old athletics facilities had been in place since the school opened 40 years ago and were “in a very poor state of repair,” according to a council report.

Council officials decided in 2019 that a £1.73m budget would be required for the scheme but have now reported “a significant increase in the cost of capital projects as a consequence of Covid”.

“Following the tendering process, the council received a preferred tender bid for the works which is above the budgeted amount of £1.73m,” the report added.

“The additional costs of the projects above the budgeted amount is not unexpected given knowledge of other tender processes recently within the council and more widely across other local authorities in Scotland.”

Plans for the upgrade were approved in September last year, with provost Jim Fletcher saying the work was “desperately needed”.

The application split opinion, with 64 letters of support and 63 objections.

Objectors were concerned over the glare from proposed floodlights, increased noise, a loss of privacy and inconsiderate parking, while those in support believed the new facilities will have exercise and health benefits.

The existing pitch will be replaced with a six-lane running track and a 3G pitch will be created in the centre of the track.

The council report, going before the cabinet on Thursday, added: “The request to vire a revenue contribution to in-year capital projects will reduce pressure on next year’s capital plan and allow the shortfall between the budgeted amount in 2019, and the tender bid received for the sports facility, to be bridged.

“This will allow the sports facility to be progressed in the near future to meet the demands faced by the school and community.”