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String of hold-ups hit £16m east London school and leisure centre job

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A £16m scheme to extend a secondary school and neighbouring leisure centre in east London is running months behind schedule because of a string of problems on the job, the council behind it has admitted.

In a letter to local MP John Cryer, sent last month, Redbridge council’s operational director of education Colin Stewart said the job to expand both Wanstead High School and Wanstead leisure centre is now not expected to finish until next autumn.

Stewart told Cryer main construction work, which includes building a new block with four classrooms for the school and a 25m swimming pool and dance studios for the leisure centre, was already running five months behind schedule after extra enabling works were required to build a new school playground.

But Stewart admitted “further delays” were then caused by the discovery of asbestos, major obstructions in the ground, which held up piling work, and “performance issues with the structural engineer, resulting in the termination of one consultant and appointment of another”.

The job is being carried out by Shoreditch-based contractor Jerram Falkus who was brought in to replace original contractor Willmott Dixon four year ago.

But a council spokesperson said: “[While] there have been a number of unforeseen technical reasons for delays in delivery of the project, the change of main contractors in 2020 was not the main factor here.”

In his letter to Cryer, Stewart said “the contractors are reporting a completion date of late summer/autumn 2025”.

He added: “I understand the concerns of your constituents and want to assure you that the programme has been streamlined with works sequenced as efficiently as possible.

“We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with all local stakeholders to minimise any possible disruption and move the project forward.”

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