Date of new Kintore school opening 'in the balance'

The date of the opening of the new primary school in Kintore is in the balance, according to East Garioch councillor Martin Ford

Whether Aberdeenshire Council will be able to open the planned second Kintore primary school in August 2016 now depends on the current owners of the site and the weather. Despite the Scottish Government announcing its decision in favour of compulsory purchase of the school site, having the new school finished and open in under 16 months from now may or may not be possible.

"It's touch and go whether the Council can get the building finished in time," said Councillor Ford. "Every day now counts as there is no spare time left should anything cause even a short delay.

"Having pressed for the new school for many years, I will be extremely disappointed if opening is delayed again. It's clearly very important that the pressure on space at the current school is reduced by getting the new school open as soon as possible.

"From making a start on site to having a new primary school ready to open generally needs about 15 months. So the Council would want construction to be starting any time now to be fully confident that the second Kintore school will be ready for use in August 2016. Any delay in starting work beyond early May brings major risk of not being ready in time, for instance if there is a very wet autumn or significant snow next winter."

Following the public local inquiry last week, the quick decision by the Scottish Government to confirm the compulsory purchase order (CPO) to acquire the site needed for the new school is certainly a boost for Aberdeenshire Council's chances of achieving the planned opening date.

"Now we have the decision in favour of the CPO, compulsorily purchasing the land and getting the school finished for August 2016 could just be possible if the weather is co-operative,” Councillor Ford added. “It will take three months for the Council to get possession of the site through the compulsory purchase route. A start on site in August leaves a year for the building work. If there is a dry autumn and a mild winter, completion for August 2016 might be managed, but the odds aren't great – realistically, less than 50:50.

"A much better scenario, from the point of view of the existing school, its pupils and the Council, is that the landowners now agree to sell the site to the Council. Sale by agreement could be completed very quickly, allowing more time for the building work and greatly reducing the risk of not having the new school finished on time.

"Purchase of the site by agreement as soon as possible is by far the best chance the Council has of being able to deliver this badly needed new school for August 2016.

"Given that the landowners all withdrew their objections to the CPO, and with the CPO confirmed, the landowners presumably now all accept the Council will be acquiring the site. It's just a question of when. Will the Council get it in time to provide the school for August 2016? The landowners could decide to be very helpful and not wait for the compulsory purchase process to go through."

"Certainly my hope is, one way or another, the new school can be delivered for August 2016. But that is clearly far from certain,” Councillor Ford concluded.
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