Project Progress Reports relevant to school major building projects are required to be submitted to the Department on a monthly basis. In accordance with the Design Team Procedures, the Design Team leader has a particular responsibility to provide monthly reports to both the Board of Management and the Department on progress against the programme and to provide ongoing monthly reports during construction.
In cases where monthly progress reports are not being submitted as requested, project updates are sought by my Department on a regular basis from Design Team Leaders. Accordingly, there is an on-going review of projects currently at Stage 2(b).
Where projects take longer than expected to progress through Stage 2(b), they have generally experienced planning difficulties due to a complicated or detailed planning application, appeals to An Board Pleanála, complications around decant arrangements or site issues. In other cases, there have been unavoidable changes to the brief or scope of the project.
Ensuring that new school buildings are Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations which in many cases involved a second planning application to allow for the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roof following receipt of the initial planning permission has over the past year, meant that some school building projects have undergone a longer than normal Stage 2(b) process.
In addition, since November 2018, a number of competitions to pre-qualify 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 on projects which were not themselves subject to a direct challenge.
I am glad to report that four major school building projects that were at Stage 2B for a considerable period of time have recently been progressed to the next stage of architectural planning, Stage 3 - Tender Stage.