Winchester City Council quizzed over ‘huge’ budget as cost of new King George V Playing Field pavilion soars to £3.3m

CIVIC chiefs have been asked about their plans to spend a ‘huge’ budget on the new King George V Playgrounds pavilion.

The the Chronicle recently announced that the cost of the installation was to increase to £3.3m, which is £1m more than the original cost in March 2021.

The pavilion will replace two decaying buildings on Highcliffe Recreation Ground and approval was given last November.

One of the existing pavilions has already been decommissioned by the city council.

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However, soaring inflation costs in the construction industry have seen all companies tending to the project raise their prices dramatically.

Despite this, the board wants to move the program forward and has requested that additional capital expenditures be allocated.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday September 22, Councilor Caroline Horrill voiced her concerns.

She said: “What a fantastic project to rebuild the lodge and improve our health and wellness facilities, especially right next to Winchester Sports and Leisure Park. It’s a project that I support from wholeheartedly strategically. However, it’s a huge budget. Do we have to run up to £3.3m, and have we considered other alternatives?”

Graeme Todd, a corporate property expert for the City Council, said the current plans for the pavilion met the criteria for use by major contributors such as the Football Foundation and the Cricket Board.

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He added: “We have considered redesigning the pavilion to make it smaller, but the cost of redesigning and submitting a new planning application would add up. The construction costs will only increase the more we delay.”

Hampshire’s biggest women’s football club, Winchester City Flyers, has been cited as one of the main reasons the council are so keen to move the project forward.

The authority said it was vital that all of its members – around 500 – had a safe space to change and enjoy the sport following the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph.

Councilor Kelsie Learney said: “A significant number of businesses have been bidding which has increased their costs. I understand the increase we’ve seen is consistent with what other businesses are seeing in their capital projects. ”

She added: “All the while, our existing facilities are getting worse. As mentioned before, women are easily pushed back into sport, and the facilities we have now are sufficient to do this on their own. It’s important that we do this. now instead of waiting for a rabbit to come out of a hat.”

The additional expense was recommended to the full board for approval.

On Thursday 22nd September, the Town Forum agreed to an additional £200,000 as part of the raise bringing its contribution to £450,000.

It was understood that construction could start in January and be completed by October/November 2023.

Cllr Paula Ferguson said that although the facility is in Winchester, around 70 per cent of users come from across the district, including clubs in Littleton, Kings Worthy, Sutton Scotney and Bishop’s Waltham.

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