PLANS for a new high school in Lossiemouth are going ahead, despite increased costs.
Councillors today backed the £42.3 million project, which includes a community centre, library, 3G pitch and swimming pool.
The build had been estimated at £36 million, but costs escalated due to the challenges presented by the build, including difficult ground conditions. However officers have been working to redesign elements of the school and, as agreed by councillors, the total extra cost to the council will now be £1.3 million. That brings the authority's contribution to £15.9 million.
The council said changes to the design have been made, but without compromising on classroom sizes or community facilities. The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) has committed £26.4 million to the project, which should be completed by June 2020.
Speaking after the meeting, which was held in private, Council Convenor James Allan (Conservative) said: “The new Lossiemouth High School will create a wonderful community facility and shows a strong commitment by the council of investing in our communities.
“It is sad that we had to make some design changes in order to ensure the project was affordable for the council but we are delighted the SFT have provided funding to enable this project to happen. None of the design changes we discussed will impact upon the level of teaching to the pupils or the school experience they will receive in the new building with classroom sizes remaining as per the original plans.”
Heldon and Laich councillors John Cowe (Independent) and Amy Patience (SNP) welcomed the decision.
Councillor Cowe said: “The ground conditions on the site sadly proved difficult for us but this was the only site in Lossiemouth that was big enough to hold the project and I am thankful to contractors and officers who have worked so hard together to ensure we get the very best value for money despite the difficulties with this new school.
“I am so pleased for the people of Lossiemouth, Burghead and Hopeman and the wider Heldon and Laich area that this is now a reality with pupils in the school by June 2020.”
Councillor Patience said: “I argued the case for retaining the original floor area in order to protect the size of the area of the new school that will be available to the wider community. The size of the library was the biggest issue for me to ensure that it is a good size to serve both the school and the community.
“Ultimately the committee voted by 19 to 4 to reduce the floor area and while I am disappointed that I did not get all I argued for, the fact that Lossiemouth is going to get a brand new high school, swimming pool, community centre with community library and a 3G pitch is still great news for Lossiemouth and the nearby villages of Hopeman, Duffus, Cummingston and Burghead.”