More delays for Stanford rail station project but demolition of adjacent site is nearly complete

By Neil Speight

6th Dec 2021 | Local News

PROGRESS on the redevelopment of Stanford rail station has been delayed to allow prospective contractors to resubmit their bids.

Planning permission for the phase one build at the station, which has been mired in controversy and delay for several years, was granted in July and in late September councillors were told 'work to progress the major redevelopment of Stanford-le-Hope railway station is now moving at pace'.

A council statement then added: "The three-month tender exercise will conclude in December and will see a Network Rail approved contractor appointed in the New Year. The contractor will then complete the crucial next stage of detailed design works and assessments before spades hit the ground in summer 2022."

However, at the meeting of the council's transport overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday (7 December), councillors will be told the completion of tendering has now been pushed back to January. And that means the projected completion of the station rebuild may now be pushed back in turn beyond the expected deadline of the end of 2023.

The tender delay follows many questions being asked about the council's original plans.

Councillors attending the meeting will receive a report saying: "The project team are responding to tender clarifications with roughly 190 clarification questions asked covering legal, contractual and technical topics. This is demonstrating a high level of engagement from the contractors."

The council's project team includes outside consultants who have been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to bring the blighted project back on track.

Councillors on the committee have frequently pressed the council to give an update on the overspend on the project, which is already many millions over its original budget, but once again it looks as if they will be disappointed.

The report to the meeting on the budget is short on detail, void of figures and just says: "High level estimated project cost evaluation exercises have been carried out at two "checkpoints" through the design process.

"The first when full concept design was agreed and a further check for pre-tender approval. It is proposed to carry out a further check, using independent estimators to carry out a pricing exercise in parallel with the tender, to provide a benchmark against which to evaluate the tender submissions."

The report does make reference to work on phase two of the project, much of which largely remains a mystery, and seems likely now to involve a sell-off of land originally planned as a car park and bus turning circle in a bid to recoup some of the extended cost of the project.

Work is currently taking place to demolish the old brewery buildings on the site and offices of Daybreak Windows, which sold the land to the council earlier this year, a total cost of which ran well over £4 million.

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