Building work on a £35 million college to train power workers in the Midlands has ground to a halt following the collapse of contractor Ashford Construction.
The new campus project in Rugby, which aims to create jobs for hundreds of construction workers, has stalled in the wake of the Coleshill contractor’s demise, it was revealed today. Birmingham-based developers St Modwen said it was “considering its options” over the scheme, to be built on 82 acres of a brownfield site with the first students expected in September 2010.
The Warwickshire College scheme at Rugby is the second major West Midland development hit by the Ashford Construction crash, with work on the £15 million facelift of Digbeth Coach Station also suspended.
Steve Burke, construction director at St Modwen, said: “We have been advised that an administrative receiver has been appointed. We are sorry to hear this unfortunate news.
“Over the years, Ashford has completed a number of projects for St Modwen across the region. With regard to the development of Warwickshire College, we are now considering the options and will be appointing contractors to carry out the works.
“We see no reason why the completion date for the college will be materially affected and can confirm that St Modwen is fully committed to this project in line with the college’s expectations.”
Following a review of the Ashford Construction business, joint administrative receivers Jo Wright and Kim Rayment have already made 48 of the 51-strong staff redundant. Jo Wright, business restructuring partner at BDO Stoy Hayward, said: “It is unfortunate that due to very tough conditions in the construction market we have had to make a number of redundancies.”
Rugby Borough Council and Warwickshire County Council granted St Modwen planning consent for the mixed-use redevelopment scheme in March 2007.
Investment for the college was agreed by the Learning and Skills Council, with a £6.3 million cash injection from Advantage West Midlands to help fund the Power Academy on site. The academy aims to train technicians for the new generation of power stations. The college will use as many sustainable energy methods as possible, including wind turbine, solar cells, solar water heating and rainwater harvesting.
St Modwen also has outline planning consent to develop the remainder of the Rugby site as a 70-acre urban community costing £120 million, the largest brownfield regeneration project in the town.
There are plans for 600-plus new homes, 90,000 sq ft of industrial accommodation, 15 acres of public open space and landscaping and a new spine road.
Meanwhile, National Express is seeking to appoint a new contractor to the Digbeth Coach Station project but has pledged that the site will open on schedule in November 2009.