‘Lessons learned’ over £8.6m price hike for Gedling Access Road

The Gedling Access Road is now almost £9 million over budget. Photo: Nottinghamshire County Council.
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

Council officers say ‘lessons have been learned’ about oversight on major infrastructure projects following the £8.619 million increase in the costs of building Gedling Access Road.

Members of Nottinghamshire County Council’s finance committee discussed and debated the ballooned costs on Monday (November 22), with concerns raised over the overspend on the initial £40 million bypass.

The authority confirmed the surging costs were partly related to the Covid pandemic, while issues with site and weather conditions have also caused prices to rise and the project to be delayed.

The 3.8km road, which was due to open this autumn, will now not be open to motorists until next spring.

But members of the committee spoke in favour of the project’s overall benefits, which are estimated to provide a boost of about £73 million to Gedling and the wider county.

Once open, the carriageway will connect Mapperley Plains to the A612 Trent Valley Road/Nottingham Road, easing congestion through Gedling village and also unlocking more land for homes.

Its completion will allow for the remainder of the 1,050 homes on the Chase Farm development – at the former Gedling Colliery land – to be built, with current rules allowing a maximum of 315 homes on-site.

It will also allow for other parts of the Gedling Local Plan to come to fruition, help the creation of jobs and also support other infrastructure around Gedling, Netherfield and Colwick.

Speaking in the meeting, Adrian Smith, corporate director for place, outlined reasons for the cost rise and said the authority has learned from the overspend.

“Inevitably the costs have increased since we started on-site,” he said.

“Predominantly this is due to Covid but it’s also because we’ve taken into account a whole range of different site conditions and other changes to the scope.

“Earlier in the autumn we set out additional costs at that point, and now we’ve undertaken a more comprehensive assessment of the overall scheme and the cost schedule.

“It’s resulted in the [£8.619 million overspend] we have today.”

But he added: “There are lessons we’ve learned around project management oversight.

“I’d expect we will be revising and changing the way we approach this going forward for other schemes.

“We can take some learning from this forward.”

The Gedling Access Road was forecast to overspend by £5.4 million in September before the more detailed assessment revealed costs will increase even further.

Councillor John Clarke (Lab), who represents Arnold South, sits on the finance committee and is also the leader of Gedling Borough Council.

He believes the extra costs will “disappear into the ether” once the road is opened and its benefits come to fruition.

“This is a fact of life, these projects go over budget,” he said.

“But this will prove its worth, it will bring money into the area and has already brought in Sainsbury’s to Colwick.

“The £73 million is a good benefit to us and the £9 million extra will disappear into the ether in a very short time.

“It’s part of a long jigsaw and is boosting the economy of the area, at the end of the day, the quality of life will be improved for people in the village and nearby.”

But some councillors spoke of their concerns over wider increases to major infrastructure schemes.

Cllr Jim Creamer (Lab), who represents Carlton West, said: “I think there’s a responsibility here for monitoring the project more than anything else.

“It’s concerning a huge project like this can suddenly jump, this is millions we’re talking about, it’s just the reporting and the monitoring seems to have fallen extremely short.

“Something has gone wrong along the chain on this. I would like to see an explanation in the future of what went wrong and why it went wrong.”

The extra costs will be funded in part by Covid reserves and Government support, with councillors voting in favour of adjusting the council’s budgets to factor in the overspend.

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