A Twenty-first Century Vision for a New Secondary School
Serving the Madras Catchment Area

 

Site Evaluation – Madras Community Use Secondary School

North Haugh – Comment on “Abnormal Costs” assessed for this site

Fife Council commissioned a report from Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) on the North Haugh site in March 2012. This report was produced under pressure of time and was essentially a “desk top exercise” which assessed possible costs but involved no intrusive investigation. The consultants were specifically instructed not to approach third parties such as utility services. The findings, reported on 14th June 2012 were therefore characterised as being tentative and not to be founded on without further investigation.

Fife Council then produced its own re-assessment of this report based on information available to its officers. We reproduce below the main issues and assessed costs arising from these reports below, together with our own comments on the matters raised.

 
ITEM RLB “Order of Magnitude” Costs Fife Council
re-assessment of Costs
New Madras for 21st Century Comment
Pedestrian Underpass under A91 linking School with Station Park Playing Fields £2,300,000

RLB questions feasibility of temporarily closing A91 to undertake work.
Cost could be reduced to £1,500,000 if temporary diversion of A91 to Old Guardbridge Road arranged. Temporary diversion entirely feasible. Cost should be compared with assessed costs of replicating playing fields at another site (Pipeland £1,500,000+) and maintaining duplicate facilities over lifetime of school.
(see note 2)
Infrastructure Upgrade
 
£817,000 to £1,051,000

Mid Point £950,000 for Gas, Electricity, Water, Tele-communications.
Could be reduced to £500,000 as IT upgrading already budgeted for separately. Similar costs may be involved wherever the school is built. Pipeland is further from telephone exchange than North Haugh.
Ecological/Environmental Requirements £423,000 to £865,000

Mid point £600,000 for re-establishing “lost habitats”.
Possible to reduce these costs to £300,000 due to better understanding of environmental conditions.
 
We question “lost habitats”. There is a misconception that a heronry is located on the North Haugh. However, biodiversity of surroundings would be a positive educational asset to school. The FC revised costs could be used to enhance biodiversity.
Swilken Burn Diversion and Flood Attenuation £1,230,000 to £1,540,000

For diversion of
Swilken Burn and provision of a culvert.
Did not include this costing as there is no evidence that this is necessary. The Swilken Burn is a short
(3 mile long) minor waterway.
which does not present a flood risk.
Distributor Road, Embankments, Earthmoving, Retaining Structures, Car Parks etc. Dependent on Ground Conditions, Flood Plain analysis.

Cut and Fill
£6,900,000 to £9,950,000

Distributor Road £325,000 to £370,000

Retaining Wall
£190,000 to £210,000.
If no need for distributor road, simple access road £480,000

Cut and fill mid point cost £4,150,000.

Cost of contribution to distributor road unknown but if required, mid point cost £5,100,000.
Distributor Road is responsibility of the Western Extension Consortium. It is inappropriate to load this onto the school costs.

A relatively short stretch of road from A91 to school is likely to be in region of £500,000.
(see note 3 re "flood plain")


Additional Points:

1 There is a Local Plan/Transportation Plan proposal for a “Park and Ride" Facility at this part of the North Haugh. The school car/bus park could be used for this purpose during the busy summer months/school holidays. Sharing costs of the parking area and access (Transportation service is seeking a partner) could provide useful savings for both services.
 
2 It is notable that no substantive discussion appears to have taken place with the Western Extension/Special Development Area Consortium on the allocation of costs for the short distributor road section which would serve a school on the North Haugh. Such a discussion should produce a mutually beneficial outcome. The longer, more complex and costly road construction, starting at the same point on the A91, which would have been necessary to construct the new school at Langlands caused no controversy when it was proposed to build the school there. This was not a factor in the school failing to be built on the Langlands site. The length of a distributor road giving access to a school on the North Haugh is very short and it would be expected that this would be of a comparable standard to a school access road. The distributor road and car park would be similar to that already built on similar terrain at the Petheram Bridge Car Park which was produced at modest cost. Fife Council has other avenues to promote infrastructure requirements to facilitate development of the Western Extension if they choose to do so. Conversely, significant engineering works and consequent costs would be required at Pipeland to produce an access road and car/bus park on this sloping site. An under-road access to the Station Park playing fields from the North Haugh will be a much more economical operation than replicating these sports facilities on a sloping site at Pipeland, particularly as the A91 at this point is constructed on a 1.5 metre high raised causeway.
 
3 The Swilken Burn is a modest and well-behaved watercourse with a short length of about three miles. Downstream, it passes close to modern houses and it meanders through the Old Course. Routine maintenance to clear debris may be advised. The North Haugh area is not identified by SEPA as a flood risk neither is the Swilken Burn susceptible to flooding. The school site has the same elevation as rest of North Haugh which houses many major buildings. The reference to a “flood plain” is therefore puzzling and certainly misleading. Intrusive site investigations by the University at the time Andrew Melville Hall was built produced no evidence of adverse site conditions or flooding risk. It is unfortunate that the RLB remit prevented contact being made with the University and other agencies which could have informed their report.
 
4 While these potential “abnormal costs” have been identified for the North Haugh site, few of these stand up to critical analysis. They require to be compared with the confirmed abnormal costs now being identified at the Pipeland site, which was embarked upon with no assessment whatsoever. Expenditure of considerable sums will be required to overcome significant inherent problems at Pipeland Farm. Even if resolved at considerable cost, the result would be a sub-optimal site in the wrong place for the majority pupils and community users. Additionally it will have a serious adverse affect on the environment.

Expenditure of a similar or lesser amount at North Haugh will on the other hand result in a school in the right place, adjacent to its existing excellent sports facilities and conveniently located and accessible for the vast majority of its users.

Taking all these factors into account, it is considered that “abnormal costs”
at North Haugh are greatly exaggerated or non-existent.