Workers outside the art room at the new Cowes Enterprise College earlier this month. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
FOLLOWING a series of delays and setbacks, it was announced yesterday (Thursday) the new Cowes Enterprise College building will not be ready until the spring — a full six months after the £32m complex was due to open.
Isle of Wight Council chief executive Steve Beynon issued a letter to parents apologising for the continued delay, which he admitted was unacceptable.
He said: "I recognise this situation has caused much frustration and practical challenges for parents, pupils, staff and governors and I want to reassure you we are seeking to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
"While this delay is deeply regrettable, it provides a more realistic timetable to for the work and the transfer to the new site to be completed and puts and end to the ongoing uncertainty for all concerned."
When the council awarded the contract to build the new school to construction firm Pihl UK, it gave an opening date of September this year.
But construction of the complex — hailed as a modern, bespoke learning environment powered by its own renewable energy centre — has been hit by repeated delays since the summer, when wet weather hampered building work.
The opening date has been pushed back several times and large parts of the building remain unfinished.
Mr Beynon today admitted previous deadlines — including one of December 3, given just last week — had proved to be optimistic.
He said: "We will be scrutinising this project in detail to understand the reasons why this has happened. There is no doubt this is a unique, major and complex building project and that setbacks due to the particular poor summer have hindered the work but, having delivered other school projects successfully either on, or ahead of, time, we need to fully understand why this project has suffered such setbacks.
"In the meantime the council will intensify efforts to ensure the building is completed to the agreed high specification and standard while the school can continue to provide quality education to pupils in the old building."
Cowes Enterprise College principal Jonathan Russell said: "Naturally we are disappointed not to have been in the building on schedule but, as we have said before, the most important thing is that the process is not rushed. The building needs to be completely ready for occupation and staff and pupils will need the required time to familiarise themselves with this vast and innovative new school building.
"We would urge the council to continue its efforts to get the building back on track and support us while we remain in the existing building."