MEMBERS of an Easter Ross community have every right to question the location of a proposed new £52 million super-school – despite the fact plans have now been submitted for another site critics say is too restrictive.
That was the view of Tain Community Council chairman David Macdonald yesterday after Highland Council formally lodged the proposal for a planned new three to 18 campus that would replace all of the town’s existing schools.
The local authority has decided the school should be built on the existing Tain Royal Academy site on Scotsburn Road, despite the town’s community council flagging concerns that it is too small and lacks room for expansion which may be required over the coming 50 years. It has called on chief executive Steve Barron to instead consider using land acquired by Highland Council next to the town’s Craighill Primary, one of two “better alternatives” to the TRA site.
Highland Council, which has earmarked the Craighill land for housing, has said the site selection was made in 2014 after a six-week public consultation.
However, the community council says the public did not have sufficient information to go on and the situation has since changed with better preferable alternatives now available.
It says the public are wary of pupils being educated “on a construction site” and the Tain Royal Academy location could instead be earmarked for housing.
Mr Macdonald says he has asked Highland Council to arrange a meeting at which people living close to the Scotsburn Road site can find out what they need to know and ask questions. He dismissed suggestions that it’s too late to change the site.
He said: “The site they are proposing is far too small. This is a massive development. There will be enormous pressure on the TRA site.
“People have asked why we are only raising concerns about the site now. It’s a different ball game now as there are options on the table. They could still come out of this with money to spare if they opt for a greenfield site.
“The reason people are raising concerns now is that they didn’t have the full information they needed back then and things have changed.”
The planning application proposes demolition of the secondary school at Tain Royal Academy and construction of an education campus accommodating pupils aged from three to 18. The facility will include nursery, primary, secondary and special school provision as well as community facilities including a swimming pool, floodlit sports pitches, a library, parking and drop off areas.
Highland Council says the campus is scheduled for completion in July 2020. The planning application is likely to be considered later this year after next month’s Highland Council elections. Background information and details of what’s proposed can now be seen on Highland Council’s ePlanning website.
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