Brexit and coronavirus partly to blame for rising cost in expansion of Greenvale School in Catford

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Covid-19 and Brexit uncertainty have played a part in increasing the cost of the expansion of a special needs school in Lewisham.

Greenvale School in Catford is a mixed secondary school for pupils aged 11 to 19 who have significant learning difficulties, including those with an additional diagnosis of autism.

A 2016 review found that Lewisham needed more special educational needs and disability (SEND) school places, while a high number of pupils were being sent out of borough.

To help alleviate this, the mayor of Lewisham approved the expansion of the school in early 2018, along with the budget to pay for a contractor to carry out the works.

But the initial attempt to tender the contract was unsuccessful, as only one tender was submitted, which was unaffordable.

“The tender exercise was therefore closed without a contract being awarded,” according to the report presented to mayor and cabinet on Wednesday.

Now the estimated construction budget – the exact figure is yet to be finalised – has increased, although it is not publicly available as it is commercially sensitive and was discussed behind closed doors.

Presenting the report, which focused on the project’s progress and construction contract award, the cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Chris Barnham, said it was “important” that the council met the needs of SEND children inside the borough rather than sending them out of it.

Cllr Barnham explained that the cost of project had increased for a number of reasons, including delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit uncertainty.

Pictured top: Greenvale School in Catford and, inset, Cllr Chris Barnham

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