The building projects referred to by the Deputy are at an advanced stage of the tender process to appoint a building Contractor. Both projects are being delivered under my Department's Design & Build programme. This delivery programme uses a professional external Project Management team to progress the project through the stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction.
The tender process which is currently underway for 8 major school building projects, including the new schools identified, will establish a framework of Design & Build Contractors to which other school building projects will be tendered over the next two years.
This is one of the largest and most complex tender exercises undertaken by the Department and as such has taken somewhat longer than was originally anticipated. It commenced in December 2019 and will be concluded in Quarter 1 of 2021 with the award of Contracts for the eight schools. Construction on all eight schools is expected to commence before the end of Quarter 1 2021.
The Contractors tendering for these schools have recently been reporting some difficulties in receiving information from supply chains and have encountered resourcing pressures due to the “ongoing disruption caused to working practices and team interaction by the current Level 5 Coronavirus Restrictions”. This has resulted in requests for extensions of time to the tender return date. There have also been other requests for extensions of time to deal with complex technical issues arising from requirements in the tender documents including requirements for phased delivery of some of the schools.
The Department has considered all of the extension of time requests and has agreed to some.
Department officials have met with the both patron bodies to discuss the school’s ongoing interim accommodation requirements together with their further interim accommodation requirements for the 2021/22 school year.