Questions have been asked over the future of a £55m plan for a new Eastwood leisure centre and theatre as inflation soars.

An update on East Renfrewshire Council’s capital spending plans revealed £2m is set to be used on the Eastwood Park project this financial year — a reduction of £26.1m.

The scheme has been rephased, as work has not begun on site, and council officials have reported “further rephasing will be required” as “costs and timings become clearer”.

Plans for Eastwood leisure centre were approved in January and include a 50m pool, a 20m training pool, family fun pool with flume, a six-court games hall, a gym and four fitness studios. A theatre, with up to 350 seats and rehearsal space, and a library would also be developed.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday, an official revealed a report is being produced on the impact of rising inflation and material costs on the project ahead of an October meeting. Annual inflation reached 10.1% in July, the highest level in 40 years.

He said the report would “explain all the background information about rising inflation, about rising material costs, what the implications are for the council and how we would want to phase any expenditure subject to the council’s decision”.

A report on the council’s general fund capital programme added: “In general, construction costs are rising faster than general inflation due to shortages of materials and labour and to bidders factoring in additional risk in their pricing. Across Scotland, many authorities are reporting cost increases of 20% to 50% on some projects.”

Cllr Andrew Morrison, Conservative, asked for a breakdown of what the £55m “consists of” as it is “quite a sum of capital investment and we all have a duty to ensure that best value is being delivered by the council”.

“I am aware of other comparable leisure centres in the private sector, for example one not far away from here which was reported as only costing £9.9m and that’s at the luxury end of the market,” Cllr Morrison added.

“Also Tollcross leisure centre in the East End of Glasgow, which was extensively refurbished for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, at a cost of £13.8m. I think that it would benefit us all to investigate where that £55m is coming from in a lot more detail.”

Cllr Morrison asked what the £2m would be spent on in 2022/23. The council official said the fee included the appointment of external consultants.

Council leader Owen O’Donnell, Labour, who took up his role after the election in May, said: “On the £55m, that was the amount that was previously agreed by the council in the last budget round. At the moment those numbers have not been revised or looked at in detail.

“Inflation is soaring at the moment and will be subject to review accordingly, but at this stage we have no further updated detail beyond what members have already received.”

The capital programme report also stated the council has “revised the phasings of our projects to reflect delays already experienced due to covid”. “We are constantly monitoring project expenditure so that additional cost pressures on key projects can be covered by deferring or reducing other projects to compensate.”

Cllr Annette Ireland, SNP, said she was “slightly concerned” for the project after hearing the comments from Cllr Morrison and Cllr O’Donnell.

In March last year, councillors agreed staff could continue to develop the proposals for Eastwood Park despite concerns over increasing costs. Previously, £26m had been allocated to the scheme but it was revealed the full costs could reach £55m. 

At a meeting in October, councillors were told a “perfect storm”, including Brexit and the pandemic, could cause the price of the leisure centre to rise. They heard how “increasing numbers of goods and services are proving challenging to procure” or have seen “substantial price increases”.

Planning permission was then granted for the project in January. However, questions over the price remained. Jim Swift, a former Conservative councillor, said at the planning committee meeting: “I agree costs are not a planning concern, they are a concern for the full council. They are an issue though, but it’s not for discussion here.”