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Didcot Parkway costs rise after asbestos discovered
OXFORDSHIRE County Council will have to spend an extra £1.3m on redeveloping the Didcot Parkway forecourt after workmen discovered buried asbestos.
Together with unexpected poor ground conditions, it has led to the cost of the scheme rising to more than £8m.
A planned covered walkway has been removed from the project because it was not deliverable, as designed, within budget.
That decision means South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) is holding back £375,000, which has driven the cost up even further.
Demolition work on the forecourt redevelopment – initially priced at £6.7m – started in April 2012.
The transport hub is being reorganised to make it safer for cars, buses, cyclists, taxis and pedestrians to use.
A report to the county council’s cabinet meeting today asked councillors to agree £1.74m of additional funding from their “corporate capital programme contingencies”.
It added a new revised covered walkway will be proposed at a later date, along with a funding agreement for it with SODC.
Didcot Parkway is Oxfordshire’s second busiest station, with 2.8m passengers using it in 2012/13 – compared to Oxford which had 6.3m.
The station is owned by Network Rail and run by First Great Western but the county council is the highways authority, responsible for maintaining and upgrading Oxfordshire’s roads and it has put up most of the scheme’s funding.
Work inside the station, such as the renovation of the ticket office, was done by First Great Western and Network Rail.
Di Chesterman, chairman of Didcot Chamber of Commerce, said she is hoping the work is finished as soon as possible.
She said: “Obviously it is one of the major arrival points in Didcot and we are keen to see it finished. It has been a work in progress for so long now.”
“It will make Didcot a much more attractive shopping proposition for the surrounding villages that have access to us by train but at the moment the chaos surrounding the forecourt is a little off-putting.”
The county council was asked how much asbestos had been found, what type it was and where it had come from but did not comment.
First Great Western, which runs the station, declined to comment saying the contract is the county council’s.
A spokesman for SODC said: “As part of normal procedures, we have to review any changes to the plans, including the relevant new costs, materials and designs.
“We see no reason why the new plans won’t be suitable to receive previously committed funding, but it's necessary and prudent to check.”
Despite the asbestos find, the project is on schedule to be completed by late autumn this year.
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