A NEW training centre for firefighters has moved a step closer to reality – but its cost has soared by more than £1.6 million.

Members of the Cheshire Fire Authority approved plans for a state-of-the-art training centre in Winsford last September, with the facility expected to cost more than £9 million.

But following inflation and the discovery of groundwork and drainage issues at its Sadler Road site, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is now set to pay £10.7 million for the centre.

In a report issued to the fire authority Andrew Leadbetter, director of governance and commissioning, said: “Since December officers and advisers have worked with [builders] ISG to complete the stage one work and this has been taken as far as possible.

“The work has identified some challenges which have required a significant amount of extra effort to get to this point.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has already reduced the site’s planned extension from two storeys to just one in a bid to keep costs down.

But it is set to pay an extra £735,000 to prepare the site – including more than £260,000 to resolve ground condition issues, and £330,000 to carry out drainage work.

Inflation of more than nine per cent has also impacted the cost, meaning an additional £740,000 has been set aside to cover the cost of labour and building materials, while the training centre is set to cost an additional £195,000 on top of those figures.

Mr Leadbetter added that options to either reduce the training centre’s design or renovate the old one had been considered as an alternative, but ‘officers did not believe that would deliver the vision and meet the stated training need’.

Fire authority members have now agreed to continue with plans for the new training centre despite the higher cost.

Cllr Eleanor Johnson, Conservative member on Cheshire Fire Authority, said: “Our firefighters deserve the best training facilities that we can provide them.”