SPIRALLING construction costs have seen the price tag for a new Borders primary school rocket from £12.3m to £16.6m, councillors have been informed.

The 35 per cent rise in the amount to be spent on Earlston Primary School has resulted in a delay over plans to build a new health centre beside it.

But despite disappointment at the impact on the proposed health centre members of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday (May 25) highlighted the positive impact the school development will have on the regeneration of Earlston.

Members agreed to sanction the conclusion of the contract with Hub South East Scotland Ltd to allow the new school project to proceed to construction.

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Councillor Simon Mountford, the council’s executive member for estate management and planning, said: “Over the past 12 months we have had numerous warnings from officers over the impact the rising costs of construction materials is having on capital projects and this is a very clear example of that problem.

“Construction inflation has had a significant impact on tender prices and this has been considerably higher than expected, so it is a shame but unavoidable that the original approved budget of £12.3m has now risen by a third to £16.6m.

“This is despite our design team and officers working incredibly hard with Hub South East and Morrison Construction on a design value exercise to ensure that the proposals provide optimal value for money.

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“The priority now is to get the job done and the school built and hopefully the health centre will follow shortly.”

Melrose councillor David Parker said: “The community of Earlston are really delighted with this investment. This project significantly remodels the environmental centre of Earlston. It’s sitting alongside a new Eildon Housing development. Not only do they get this new community facility but they get the centre of Earlston rejuvenated and looking much better than it does at the moment. It really is a regeneration project of very big significance to the community.”

A council report states that NHS Borders remains "committed to delivering the new health centre”, adding: “The health centre will be constructed separately, at a later date, once NHS Borders have concluded their governance process. This will have a minimal impact on what will be an operational school. To clarify, the phased delivery of the primary school, early years and community space does not prevent the future provision or construction of the health centre.”