Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Questions (80)

John Curran

Question:

80. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school building projects at an advanced stage of architectural planning stage 2(B) - detailed design; the number of school building projects that have been at stage 2B for more than one, two, three and over five years, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22912/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Stage 2(b) Detailed Design is arguably the most complex and detailed of all the stages in Architectural Planning.

In the majority of school building projects, this stage includes the planning application, the application for Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the pre-qualification of contractors. It also includes the preparation of complex and detailed tender documents.

Over the past year, some school building projects have undergone a longer than normal Stage 2b process. This can be due to a complicated or detailed planning application, appeals to An Bord Pleanala, complications around decant arrangements or issues relating to the site. Furthermore, in completing Stage 2(b), Design Teams are now required to upgrade design details to ensure that new school buildings are Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations. In many cases this has involved a second planning application to allow for the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roof following receipt of the initial planning permission.

In addition, since November 2018, a number of competitions to pre-qualify suitable and competent building contractors have been challenged in the High Court leading to the need to completely redraft the procedures and processes involved in pre-qualification. This has impacted over the past few months on projects which were not themselves subject to a direct challenge.

In terms of current projects at Stage 2b, 7 such projects have been progressing through the stage for 1 year, 19 projects have been progressing for 2 years, 19 further projects have been progressing for 3 years and 9 projects have been progressing through the stage for 5 years. This is in the context of currently over 70 major school building projects in advanced architectural planning and a continuous throughput of projects moving into Stage 2b and onwards towards Tender Stage and Construction.

In the small number of cases where projects have been in Stage 2b for 5 years, these projects have generaly experienced planning difficulties and/or unavoidable changes to the brief or scope of the project in addition to the other general impediments to progress mentioned previously.