DEMOLITION of the old Noble’s Hospital site is progressing.
But it could be at least a couple of years before construction begins on a £1.1 million primary school on the Westmoreland Road site - as the squeeze on government spending could mean it is pushed back in the capital programme.
Former Health Minister Eddie Teare handed over the keys of the old Noble’s Hospital to the Department of Education in March last year.
The site is earmarked for a new school with a capacity for 350 pupils to replace Ballacloan Infants’ School and Fairfield Junior School.
Tynwald funding approval was given in February last year for preparatory works – including removing asbestos from the buildings, demolition, levelling the ground and securing the site.
But the work to prepare the site for demolition took longer than expected because of the amount of asbestos that had to be removed.
Contractors Island Drainage finally began demolition in late January and the site is expected to have been flattened by May.
Department of Education and Children estates director Richard Collister said: ‘The removal of asbestos was completed pretty much before Christmas but the decontamination has taken longer than expected. It was a complicated job and the contractors under-estimated the time and resources needed to remove it. ‘But the delay is not critical because construction of the new school is at least a couple of years away.’
Mr Collister said the department was currently looking at the breadth and feasibility of the scheme.
But the aim was to move to the design stage in the next financial year and then through the planning process, which could take 18 months, before seeking Tynwald funding approval for construction. He insisted the scheme would go ahead but it was a question of how soon, given the financial constraints facing government.