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Tain 3 to 18 multimillion-pound school campus go-ahead from Highland Council committee celebrated – though absence of swimming pool remains a gripe

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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An artist's impression of the Tain campus.
An artist's impression of the Tain campus.

Highland councillors have spoken of their delight at being able to grant planning permission for the long-awaited Tain community campus.

The 3-18 campus is expected to be the greenest in Highland, with high energy efficiency and extensive landscaped grounds.

The council’s north planning committee approved the development unanimously this afternoon.

Local members said it was a “long and arduous task” to get the school to this point.

They thanked the planners and architects for working with the community to develop a “cutting edge design.”

The Tain 3-18 campus will include a nursery, primary school, high school, playgrounds and sports facilities. It will sit on a sloping site on Craighill Terrace next to the existing health centre and care home, with views across the Dornoch Firth.

The two-storey building will be the first Highland Council build to meet passivhaus standards – a building so energy-efficient it uses barely any heating.

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It will replace a number of existing schools, some considered below acceptable standards.

The stand-out feature of the campus is the landscape gardens and outdoor play space. Plans for the grounds include orchards, willow dens, growing gardens, timber trails and outdoor theatres.

The existing Tain Royal Academy.
The existing Tain Royal Academy.

It will not be without its challenges. Tain councillors Alasdair Rhind and Derek Louden both warned that traffic management will be an issue in the narrow streets surrounding the campus.

However, they pledged to work with developers to minimise the impact on local residents.

Mr Rhind also said the landscaped gardens would require ongoing maintenance, and urged the council not to let that become an unmanageable burden.

For the Tain community, the elephant in the room is the lack of a swimming pool.

Members of the public this week took to Facebook to express their disappointment that a new pool is not included in the design.

Mr Louden alluded to this, but sought to focus on what’s been achieved.

“The thing that everybody will take from today is the positives,” he said.

“There are still issues in regard to what isn’t there, but that’s not for today.

“Today, my thoughts are with the teachers and the pupils, who are going to have a much better environment to study and learn.

“All of us are looking forward to the next two years,” he added.

“Hopefully we will be in as planned in August 2024.”

Are you happy with what has been achieved? Share your views by emailing hector.mackenzie@hnmedia.co.uk

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