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Cambourne Village College expansion is on hold

Plans to extend Cambourne Village College and create a sixth form to meet the town’s growing need for places have been put on hold due to the rising cost of building materials, which have been blamed on the war in Ukraine.

Projected image of the expanded Cambourne Village College (56235390)
Projected image of the expanded Cambourne Village College (56235390)

Cambridgeshire County Council approved the expansion in December to meet the demand for school and post-16 places after permission was granted to build more than 2,000 new homes in Cambourne West.

The plans included four new teaching blocks as well as a two-storey extension to the existing music and drama block, and a further two storey extension to an existing teaching block to create a 350-place independent sixth form building. The works would have increased the school’s 11-16 capacity by 300 places to 1,650.

Principal Claire Coates said in a letter to parents: “We are disappointed to have to inform you that the opening of our sixth form and expanded facilities for the mainstream school will not take place in September 2023 as we had hoped.

“Unfortunately, when the project underwent its final tendering processes earlier this month, uncertainty in supply chains and significant increases in the cost of materials means that the development budget needs to be reappraised by Cambridgeshire County Council. This enforced delay means that building cannot commence in May as planned, and therefore cannot be completed for September 2023.

“A direct consequence of this is that unfortunately, students in our current Year 10 will not now be able to attend our own sixth form, as we had planned.”

Ms Coates said she hoped the approval of the new budget would be given in “very good time” to allow the opening of both sixth form and expanded 11-16 facilities by September 2024.

She added that the school would work with the county council to ensure that any temporary facilities are in place to accommodate any increase in pupil numbers in the meantime.

“As ever, we will continue to work our hardest to provide an excellent secondary education for the young people of Cambourne whilst the new arrangements are made,” Ms Coates said.

Stephen Munday, chief executive of The Cam Academy Trust.
Stephen Munday, chief executive of The Cam Academy Trust.

Stephen Munday, chief executive of the Cam Academy Trust which runs Cambourne Village College, said: “We are all obviously disappointed that the proposed new facilities at Cambourne Village College cannot now be completed in time for September 2023. The current extreme situations that are impinging upon building projects in this country have forced this issue.

“Given that the proposed developments (both for a new sixth form and the further expansion of the 11-16 capacity at the school) relate to ‘basic need’ (i.e. are required due to increasing local school-aged population), we are working very closely with the county council to ensure that the facilities are developed as quickly as can now be possible.”

A county council spokesperson said: “The expansion of Cambourne Village College has been delayed by a year due to several factors beyond the county council’s control – largely as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

“These are primarily centred around sudden and significant increases in the cost of energy and oil, and the increasing cost of materials such as steel, timber and oil-based products, all of which have had an unprecedented effect on the construction industry. We are working hard with the CAM Academy Trust – which runs Cambourne Village College – to ensure any disruption to students’ education is minimised.”

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