Fettes under fire as college plots £12 million overhaul

An artist's impression of how the modernised Fettes would look
An artist's impression of how the modernised Fettes would look
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NEW classrooms and a 270-seat auditorium would be created under plans for a £12 million revamp of Fettes College, sparking objections from heritage body The Cockburn Association.

Plans for an auditorium plus music, art, maths, languages, economics and geography classrooms at the private school have been recommended for approval by council officials, but still have to be given the green light by councillors at a planning meeting today.

It is also recommended that a proposal to demolish the existing concert hall building and later extensions to the north building is granted.

The concert hall building was originally built as a gymnasium in 1872.

The council’s head of planning, John Bury, said the development would comprise three main elements – a new teaching wing, music courtyard and drama auditorium.

Under the plans, the existing north building would be refurbished to provide the new music courtyard, while the final phase would involve the demolition of the old gymnasium to make way for a 270-seat auditorium and teaching spaces.

However, in a letter to the city council, The Cockburn Association said it was “strongly opposed” to the plans. Director Marion Williams said the loss of the old gymnasium building, which has “many good qualities”, would be “considerable”.

She added: “We are concerned that buildings of low architectural quality such as the 1950s north building extension are being carefully salvaged and incorporated into the new design, whilst a building of high quality is to be lost.”

Michael Spens, headmaster at Fettes College, said: “Fettes is thriving, at full capacity and demand for places is incredibly high,” he said. “However, we are still teaching in classrooms, many of which were built at the end of the 19th century when the school roll was far smaller, so it is time for us to upgrade in order to maximise the learning environment for our students.”

If the application is approved, it is hoped that work will start next year, with stage one and two completed 18 months after the start date.

Mr Spens added: “In terms of costs, we can provide ballpark estimates – £5m for phase one, £2m for phase two and £5m for stage three.”

Another application recommended for approval includes an extension to the rear of Corstorphine Primary School.

And Napier University’s Merchiston campus wants new facilities for music, a new main entrance and multi-use space approved at today’s meeting.

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com