The estimated cost of the West Suffolk Operational Hub has soared – before builders have even started work.
On Tuesday, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet voted to approve an extra £1.095 million it is being asked to fund for the Hollow Road Farm waste transfer station, while Forest Heath District Council’s bill has increased by £589,000.
A report to the cabinet detailed how the estimated cost to the two councils had risen to £17.8 million from a previous June 2016 estimate of £16.1 million.
The cost increase has been attributed to delays, ground and foundations costs, additional walls, drainage, sprinkler design, CCTV, security and additional overheads and fees.
The total cost of the hub – which the council hopes could be operational by August 2019 – is now approximately £32 million with St Edmundsbury funding £14.853 million, Forest Heath £4.631 million and the rest from Suffolk County Council.
But hub campaigners have questioned whether costs could increase further.
Adrian Graves, spokesman for the Villages Community Forum, said: “There has already been a cost escalation and they haven’t even built anything yet. What’s the cost going to be by the time it’s operational?”
Objector Mark Aston said he was concerned by an increase in the estimated construction costs – from £13.1 million in 2016 to £15.2 million now.
“There’s a £2.1 million increase in estimated construction costs before you’ve even got a builder on site,” he said. “My concern is that the hub could go the same way as the Apex, which ended up costing £8 million more than originally estimated.”
Sarah Bartrum, of Fornham St Martin, said: “This is a vanity project and they have got it in their heads that they are going to build it, no matter what.”
On Tuesday the cabinet also agreed, subject to receiving planning consent, to the council exercising its option to buy the land at Hollow Road Farm – for just over £2 million – and entering into a contract to construct the hub.
Cllr Peter Stevens, Portfolio Holder for Operations, said: “I am pleased that once a decision has been made by the Secretary of State on planning permission we can get on and build this much needed project as soon as possible.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the estimated costs were being kept under review.