None of the further education colleges drawn up by the 20 architects on the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) framework will receive any government funding until 2011.
On Friday (26 June), the LSC said it was only coughing up emergency funding worth £300 million to 13 projects. The move leaves nearly 170 other schemes, also expecting cash from the government’s troubled multi-billion-pound college rebuilding programme, high and dry.
The news was described as ‘just another kick in the teeth’ by Dyer director Tim Hampson, whose practice has had to mothball nine schemes. The ‘devastated’ architect said: ‘We, like many of the framework architects, have hung in for the last six months keeping talented and motivated teams together in the hope one of our remaining projects may be released.’
RIBA president Sunand Prasad agreed. ‘This news comes at a very bad time in the current recession. It is good news for the successful practices, but a bitter blow for those that were not,’ he said.
Prasad called for an inquiry to avoid a repeat of the debacle. ‘Of course the mismanagement has already resulted in a resignation [from LSC chief Mark Haysom], but government must ensure this does not happen again. We would like to see details of the proposals and why this was allowed to happen,’ he added.
It was initially thought around 40 ‘shovel-ready’ projects would be taken forward by the LSC (AJ 30.04.09). Intriguingly, all the projects now given the go-ahead, such as Bond Bryan’s Sandwell College and Hartlepool College (pictured), are in areas with Labour MPs.
A ‘relieved’ Jonathan Herbert, managing director at Bond Bryan, said the decision to approve four of the firm’s schemes allowed it to ‘plan for the future after months of uncertainty’.
However, he admitted the practice was ‘now working with clients to try to identify further cost savings before the projects commence or continue on site’.