Decision details

To approve a revised business case and budget for the expansion of Marlbrook Primary School within the approved capital allocation

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


To approve a revised business case and budget for the expansion of Marlbrook Primary School within the approved capital allocation, to accommodate the additional pupils admitted from 2014 in response to rising numbers in South Hereford and to meet parental preference.

The revised business case is attached as Appendix 1.

Provision of £6.141m is included within the approved capital programme to complete the expansion of Marlbrook Primary School from 420 to 630 statutory age pupils, increasing its planned admission number from 60 to 90.  Following authorised expenditure of £446.5k on feasibility and initial costs, on 10 May 2018 Cabinet approved an extension to the school to enable its permanent expansion from two to three forms of entry and provision of additional car parking and associated works to fulfil planning and transport requirements, at a cost of not more than £4,688,500 to be delivered through a design and build contract. Design work has now reached Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stage 4 - detailed design - and a detailed cost plan based on sub-contractors' tenders has been produced by the principal contractor confirming that scheme costs exceed the budget approved by Cabinet but remain within the overall capital programme provision for this scheme. This report seeks approval of the revised business case and authority to spend up to the sum of £6.141m in the capital programme - being an additional £1.006m  This revised sum covers the following which was part of the original specification but have now been fully costed:

"           feasibility work undertaken and completed in 2017

"           modification of the Green Croft building to accommodate the school's early years provision which was completed in 2018

"           internal modifications to the main school building to provide a new Reception Year classroom, a new staffroom, additional car parking and new netball courts which were completed in Summer 2019

"           the design work for the main construction project done to date

"           the cost of the main construction contract - for work yet to be done

"           the council's project management costs and professional services

"           the council's contingencies

Marlbrook is a popular and successful school, rated outstanding by Ofsted, located in Redhill ward in Hereford.  There has been growing demand for school places across the south of the city for some years, and without the additional capacity there would be insufficient places to meet this demand. The school was asked to take a larger intake in 2014 - 90 instead of 60 - and has done so every year since.  Until now the larger numbers have been accommodated in temporary accommodation.  The purpose of the current project is to ensure that all children in the school are accommodated in permanent buildings.

Approval of the revised business case and budget will enable the extension works to be delivered to the recommended specification and standard set out in the revised business plan.  This comprises providing six new classrooms, a new hall, and ancillary spaces, including facilities to make the school fully accessible, such as a hygiene and physio room, a larger remodelled kitchen, and required external works to meet planning requirements, including the requirements of Sport England for replacement netball courts.  It also includes provision for furniture, fittings and equipment, and the council's project management costs and contingencies.




a)    the revised business case for the expansion of Marlbrook Primary School at Appendix 1 be approved;

b)    a revised scheme cost of up to £6,141m be approved (being an additional £1.006m to the previously approved cost); and

c)    the director for children and families be authorised to take all operational decision necessary to implement the above recommendations within the agreed budget.

Alternative options considered:


1.         The project could be abandoned in its entirety and/or further temporary classrooms could be provided to accommodate growing pupil numbers instead of a new school building.  This is not recommended as current accommodation does not meet the Department for Education’s Building Bulletin 103 Area Guidelines for Schools recommendations, and the Schools Capital Investment Strategy aims to remove temporary classrooms.

2.         The council could retender the construction works to see if the works could be obtained at a lower cost. The report at Appendix 2 produced by independent cost consultants appointed by the council to advise on the costs of the project and test value for money, concludes that the price offered by the contractor provides value for money for the council.

3.         The costs have been challenged and significant reductions have been obtained as a result. Re-tendering works valued in excess of £4m would take several months to complete and would lead to longer timescales for the delivery of the project.  Such a process would not necessarily deliver the works at lower cost, based on the independent value for money report at Appendix 2.

4.         The council could request additional value engineering proposals from the principal contractor to reduce costs.  These would be likely to entail some reduction in the specification of the new extension and other works.  The most likely such proposal would be to do no works to improve the kitchen, which would compromise the school’s ability to produce hot meals on site.

5.         The council is not yet in contract with the principal contractor, so there is scope for agreeing changes to the schedule of works. However the schedule of accommodation to be delivered is based on the Department for Education’s Building Bulletin for Schools 103. To significantly deviate from these standards would result in delivering a building that did not meet the recommended specification, or the principles set out in the Schools Capital Investment Strategy.


Reason Key: Expenditure and strategic nature / impact on communities;

Wards Affected: Redhill;


Political groups

Contact: Karen Knight, Sufficiency Planning and Capital Investment Manager Email: Tel: 01432 383042 Email: Tel: 01432 383042.

Publication date: 27/11/2019

Date of decision: 27/11/2019

Effective from: 04/12/2019

Accompanying Documents:

  • To approve a revised business case and budget for the expansion of Marlbrook Primary School within the approved capital allocation