Can contractors design and build within agreed budget? The challenge ahead for Kings Dyke crossing bypass at Whittlesey

Kings Dyke crossing project approved

Kings Dyke crossing project approved - Credit: Archant

County council officials have explained more about the two stage design and construct contract awarded to a company aiming to build the £16.5 million Kings Dyke level crossing bypass at Whittlesey.

Councillors who approved the bid by one of six companies that tendered for the job were told that only after the cost was confirmed would it move from the design stage to construction.

A report released of a recent environment and economy committee says that it was highlighted that there was “an initial presumption that the scheme would be delivered as a single package”.

However the report says no guarantee was being given to the successful bidder that they would be allowed to move directly from design to build.

“This would be conditional on satisfactory performance and agreement of a construction target price based on the detailed design,” says the report.

Officials won agreement from the committee that to deliver the scheme quickly – which was the aspiration of all- then if costs stayed on target the work could start.

However if post design the target price was “significantly higher than the tender stage construction price” or exceeded the scheme budget then additional funding would have to be first sought from the general purposes committee.

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One of the major hold-ups to the scheme – that was given the green light nearly five years ago- appears to have been sorted.

Councillors were told that “significant work had been undertaken to secure the land and informal agreement has now been reached with all the land owners”.

Legal conveyancing is ongoing but the cost of buying the land – because of the delays- had increased.

The report noted that recent Government advice on the use of compulsory purchase indicated that these powers should only be used as a last resort.

“The county council has therefore sought to acquire the land required by agreement with each of the landowners rather than use of compulsory purchase powers,” councillors heard.

The cost has increased since “the owners have demonstrated greater value for potential development than land agents initially anticipated. The land negotiations are still in the final stages of negotiation, therefore the cost is still confidential at this point.”

Early cost estimates indicated a scheme cost of £13.6 million, however it was subsequently reported that the cost could increase to £16.9 million. However the council is anxious the work is done – and soon- and the committee was told “it is clear that the scheme falls into the high value for money category according to the Department for Transport.”

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