Edinburgh’s ‘worst school building’ wins reprieve

Duncan Place Resource Centre. Picture: Jane Barlow

Duncan Place Resource Centre. Picture: Jane Barlow

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A CRUMBLING hall dubbed the Capital’s “worst school building” is to be saved from demolition as part of £4 million plans for a new nursery and gym.

Duncan Place Resource Centre in Leith was last year proposed for removal after an inspection highlighted concerns about its structure.

But the plans have been reversed after city officials admitted its listed status meant any move to demolish would probably fail strict tests set down to protect historic buildings.

Instead, only the rear part of the centre will go, with a new gym and nursery erected in its place and the remaining block made safe and secure.

A working group will also be created to look at how the block could be transferred to local groups for long-term community access.

Duncan Place Resource Centre was previously used for PE lessons at Leith Primary and a nursery class from the same school. It was ranked bottom of 144 school buildings in a recent audit.

Parent representatives have voiced concern at planning and construction delays caused by moves towards full demolition which were later cancelled.

A spokeswoman for Leith Primary Parent Council said: “We are where we are and we would like to strongly support the new-build nursery and gym.

“The proposals will have a positive impact on the school community, particularly the nursery expansion and the extension of provision to vulnerable two-year-olds in the community.”

In a further boost for Leith Primary, it has emerged a playground extension is complete after a section of neighbouring St Andrew Place was transferred to the school.

Councillor Chas Booth, Green member for Leith, said: “There’s unanimity that demolition of the back half of the building and re-building a new gym and nursery is absolutely the right thing.

“It’s the right thing for Leith Primary and it’s the right thing for the community.

“The Duncan Place Resource Centre is a much-loved building and I want to pay tribute to the hard work of the management committee in campaigning for it to be saved.”

He added: “There’s massive potential there, if we can bring the community space back into use.

“Duncan Place was used for a whole host of community resources and I hope that will not be lost to the people of Leith.”

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “I reiterate the desire to move forward jointly with the community on this.

“It has been a hugely difficult issue. This committee moves forward with the best intentions to minimise the risk to users of that building.”

The centre was built in the 1920s and falls into category C as a listed building. It was suddenly closed over safety concerns in 2014.

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com