CONCERNS have been raised that savings options might have to be explored for Helensburgh’s new waterfront leisure centre due to rising construction costs.

A report has revealed that the price of materials and fuels for building contractors rose by nearly five per cent in 2018.

And the document by Argyll and Bute Council’s executive director of development and infrastructure Pippa Milne says that ‘value engineering’ options may have to be considered if results of the tendering process, which is currently ongoing, prove too expensive.

The report will be considered by the authority’s environment, development and infrastructure committee on Thursday, June 6.

READ MORE: £1.2m to be spent on Helensburgh's waterfront – before a brick is laid

Planning permission was given for the £19.5 million project in January, but £1.2m could be spent before a single brick is laid in order to see the development through to full business case.

The ‘drawdown’ of an additional £235,000 from the overall budget to help it reach ‘full business case’ stage was agreed by the council’s policy and resources committee in May.

Ms Milne said: “The main risk at present is the affordability of the works contract, where input prices for materials and fuels rose by 4.7 per cent in the year through January 2018.

“According to the Construction Products Association, 82 per cent of civil engineering contractors and 82 per cent of main construction contractors reported higher raw materials prices passing through the supply chain over the final quarter of 2017, with the expectation that 2018 would show a similar trend.

READ MORE: Waterfront plans face 'significant financial challenge'

“Construction Industry Inflation forecasted at a one per cent tender price growth for both 2019 and 2020, increasing in the longer term to 1.5 per cent in 2021 and 2022.

“This will already have impacted on the project budget due to the delay in securing planning approval following community council objections to the planning hearing.

“The project team will continue to monitor market data/trends during the procurement exercise, as well as considering what potential if any there might be for Value Engineering options, should the tender prices be unaffordable.”

According to a report for the most recent standard meeting of Helensburgh and Lomond area committee, in March, the tendering process is due to close on Friday, June 7, and the contract for construction of the leisure centre is scheduled to be awarded in August.

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The report for that meeting added: “Members will wish to note that starting the procurement exercise for the main works contract will provide hard market data and prices, which will enable the project team to make subsequent and informed recommendations to the committees of the council with respect to the affordability of the project overall.

“Starting the procurement exercise in no way commits the council to awarding any contract, nor does it commit any significant capital expenditure at this stage.”