Castlebrae Community High given £12m funding boost

Picture: Ian Georgeson

Picture: Ian Georgeson

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PLANS to build a replacement for a troubled secondary school have been given a £12 million funding boost.

Castlebrae Community High has been plagued by a raft of scandals in recent years amid plunging rolls and poor exam results, narrowly escaping closure in 2013.

But now major plans to build a primary school and hundreds of new homes in the south of the city look set to breathe fresh life into attempts to fund a replacement for the secondary.

Proposals lodged with the council earlier this week would see 773 houses constructed at the Edmonstone Estate in Little France, along with a primary school aimed at alleviating the pressure of rising school rolls in surrounding areas.

If the scheme gets the go-ahead, the developer Sheratan Ltd will buy back the land – which it sold to the council ten years ago – for £12m, a total set to be pumped into building a new high school in Craigmillar.

Blueprints for a £27m replacement secondary were unveiled last year, providing space for 600 pupils and located close to the existing community library, with an entrance at Niddrie Mains Road.

But parent leaders raised concerns a funding shortfall meant the new campus would not be completed by 2020, the delivery date promised when the decision was made to keep Castlebrae open two years 
ago.

Susan Heron, vice-chair of Castlebrae’s parent council, said she hoped the latest development would go some way to plugging the gap – accelerating plans for the new school.

She said there would be “a lot of anger” among the local community if the council failed to live up to its promise of having a new building in place in five years.

“If it hurries along the process of getting a new high school, then that’s a good thing,” she said. “Any new development is good for the area. I think every community needs a school at its heart.

“There’s a low school roll, but the work that goes into Castlebrae is absolutely 
fantastic, and the headteacher has done a fantastic job on the school.”

Carol Clydesdale, secretary of Craigmillar Community Council, added: “We would welcome any progress on a replacement secondary school, as the council has given a commitment to a new one by 2020.”

In addition to the school and homes, Sheratan Ltd’s proposals for the Edmonstone Estate would see around 60 per cent of the 170-acre site retained as green space – including parkland and cycle and pedestrian links.

Local community projects would also receive £500,000-worth of support to provide training and employment.

The company already has permission to build hundreds of homes in other areas of the site, and argues its new primary would reduce pressure on neighbouring schools by accommodating children from surrounding areas.

A spokesman for Sheratan Ltd said: “We are delighted to be lodging this planning application, which will not only deliver much-needed housing for the city, but a new primary school and, in conjunction with the council, a community park that has been talked about for many years.

“We will also be providing funding to support training and employment locally. This development will therefore deliver real benefits to the local community and the city.”