I just wanted to share an update on the long-awaited 3G training strip, together with an updated timeline and information from the University on the reasons for the delays.
A full planning application by the University is currently with B&NES Planning Department and a decision should be received by the end of August. The 12-week construction period should then commence, meaning that the facility is likely to open towards the end of 2019. Realistically, this means that clubs will begin using the facility from the start of Semester 2.
Many of you will be aware that this is much later than was originally hoped, as the University had previously announced aims to have the strip built during the 2018-19 academic year. This has been a huge disappointment for me as your Sport Officer, as I’m sure it is for you. After my predecessor was delighted to have had approval for this project just before I started, I had hoped that 12 months later we would have at least started construction – rather than still being at the planning phase.
This project was meant to be a ‘design and build’, meaning that a contractor is appointed after a tendering process, given a specification and is then responsible for delivering what we ask for. The delays below show that the University did not have an accurate understanding of the work needed in order to deliver to the timeline they originally thought would be feasible. As well as this, we have seemingly moved away from a design and build approach, meaning that whilst very busy with other much larger projects, the University has carried out work that was initially intended to be done by the contractor.
I have raised issues with the process throughout, and have made the points in this email clear to the University staff responsible for the project. They’ve said that they have taken these on board and lessons will be learnt for the future, when we finally get approval for full-size 3G facilities. The specific issues causing delays to the project are below:
- Very little action taken between project approval in May 2018 and the first project meeting at the end of September 2018. It was only when I raised concerns of lack of progress that a meeting was set up.
- Specification delay due to costs/issues around planning for floodlighting – the project is being built now with the necessary groundworks to install floodlights at a later date, however, this will take more time due to lighting restrictions and power supply.
- Contractor interviews not factored into timeline.
- Further investigations for drainage of the site.
- Re-pricing exercise due to knock-on effect of further investigations.
- Pre-application for planning not originally thought necessary.
- Going back to the VC for increased budget approval from £360k to £450k.
I want to assure you that I have been pushing the importance of delivering the project as soon as possible for the benefit of us all, but unfortunately there is only so much impact that can have. Hopefully at least this will manage some expectations and allow clubs to plan for the year ahead.
It is worth noting that as construction is now going to be occurring during Semester 1, there will be disruptions to grass pitches. SU staff will be working with clubs and the Sports Department to minimise the impact of this on your training and fixtures.
Please get in touch if you have any further questions or concerns. This is certainly not the note I wanted to be leaving my position on, but I also don’t want to let it detract from all the fantastic things we’ve done together this year.
Student’s Union Sport Officer