According to documents seen by the AJ, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) building programme for further-education colleges only intends to progress projects that will be ready to go on site within three months
The move is intended to help prioritise a £1.2 billion pot of ‘ringfenced’ funds (£300 million over each of the next four years).
However, this represents only a quarter of the money needed to build all the colleges originally backed by the LSC, and means most designs drawn up by the 20 framework architects will be mothballed.
Architects on the LSC framework have reacted with fury over the plans which will effectively ditch more than 100 schemes.
Joanna van Heyningen, whose practice van Heyningen and Haward teamed up with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios under the name Joint Venture for Further Education, fears seven out of their eight framework schemes are now unlikely to proceed.
She said: ‘It has taken me a long time to believe the worst. I now do and I am furious to have been led into spending thousands and thousands of pounds, first to get on to the framework, then to compete for work once on it, hiring staff to do the work, only for it to vanish into nothing.’
Van Heyningen added: ‘We feel desperately sorry for the colleges, but we understand that they may be reimbursed for some of the money they have spent.’
Other architects said they feel ‘angered, disappointed and frustrated’ by the prioritisation, with one practice admitting it would have to make redundancies next week as a direct result.
Yet Alan Simpson of LSC framework practice Taylor Young said he could understand the move. ‘It is difficult,’ said Simpson. ‘But morally, I would prefer the limited resources to be used on building a few schemes, rather than designing lots that have no chance of being constructed.’
‘At least it’s a plan,’ he added.
The LSC said it was hoping to use the three month period as a ‘gateway criteria’ to help prioritise the wave of stalled projects and ‘to identify those [schemes] with the most urgent and greatest need projects’