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Waltham Forest Council has awarded a contract worth more than £3 million to refurbish its nature education centre in Epping Forest.
Suntrap Forest Education Centre in Epping Forest is a seven-acre site run by Waltham Forest but located in Waltham Abbey.
It first opened in 1967 and the council hopes to make it “financially sustainable” by increasing visitor numbers.
The contract was awarded on Monday February 24 to Cosmur Construction (London) Ltd, whose initial bid was around £500,000 too expensive.
The £3,366,767.83 contract covers refurbishing, remodelling and extending the Victorian building; building a new camping pavilion, outdoor classroom and camping pods and extensive landscaping works.
A report presented to the council’s commercial director for property and delivery on February 24 stated that, though the company offered the most “economically advantageous” bid, it was still “significantly higher than the available budget for this element of the project”.
It adds: “Proposals have subsequently been recosted by Cosmur Construction (London) Ltd and the affordability gap has reduced sufficiently to fit within the overall revised project cost plan.
“The construction element has reduced by £367,000 and the overall budget increased by £100,000 to £4.6 million to address the remaining shortfall.”
Cosmur Construction received £300,000 out of their total budget in December last year to “undertake early site setup works” and £4.6 million in funding for the overall project was approved by cabinet on December 5.
The council decided in a matter of minutes to award the contract.
The report noted not doing so would impact the project’s completion date and thus “adversely impact on the business case assumptions around the viability of the service”, as well as the centre’s income.