The building programme to develop and open a new Partnership Centre in Whitburn has been put back for five months, after contractors identified the need to divert a high voltage cable onsite. Work on the new facility began in the Spring and will bring a number of local facilities and services under one roof in the heart of the town centre.
Until the new facility is opened, existing services will remain open, with housing and customer information services currently being delivered from the Library.
Donald Forrest, the council's Head of Finance and Property Services explained: "The contractors have been progressing on site as part of the development of a new partnership centre for Whitburn but they have identified a high voltage cable onsite, which must be diverted. This was unfortunately not identified as part of the initial site diligence at the building contract tender stage. "As this is a high voltage cable the work must be undertaken by Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) and requires a specified lead in time to mobilise and complete the diversion work safely with no disruption to customers.
"Unfortunately due to the proximity of the cable to the proposed foundation work, the overall programme may take up to approximately five months longer than originally anticipated, with completion for the building now expected in January 2021. We are obviously reliant on Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) being in a position to carry out the works within their estimated timetable, and we're hopeful that they are able to achieve this given the importance of the facility within the local community."
He added: "In the meantime, the project will not standstill. The contractor is continuing to work on other areas of the site, including the roof work to the part existing building being retained and stonework repairs, and will continue to do so until the cable issue is resolved to progress some elements of work and ensure a site presence. Officers are liaising daily with SPEN, the contractor and the project design team to try to minimise the overall delay by re-programming elements of the work and utilising off-site construction where appropriate without compromising on the quality of the finished building. We will have firm dates for the cable diversion soon and a detailed programme to completion will then be prepared looking to accelerate some work where possible. We're keen that the local community and customers are kept up-to-date with progress and a further update will be provided at that time."
The project is the latest in the council's partnership centre model that has proven successful in other parts of the area including Armadale, Bathgate, East Calder, Broxburn, Fauldhouse and Linlithgow. West Lothian Council will invest nearly £5 million in the facility which will see the redevelopment of the Burgh Halls site on East Main Street to create the centre. The original Burgh Halls façade will also be kept and restored. The project will hopefully act as a catalyst for regeneration of the cross area and the wider town centre.