New-look Gillespie’s set for the green light

An artist's impression of how the revamp will look from the road
An artist's impression of how the revamp will look from the road
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A LONG-awaited revamp of a city primary school that will include a new nursery, gym and two additional classrooms is set to get the go-ahead.

The proposal for James Gillespie’s Primary School has been recommended for approval by city planners, but still has to be given the green light by councillors at a planning meeting tomorrow.

The application to alter and extend the existing school includes a new school gym/assembly hall, a nursery and two classrooms, as well as the removal of temporary buildings and demolition of the existing nursery and gym.

Parent Amelia Beattie, who lives in Blackford Avenue and has three children at the primary school, underlined her support for the plans in an email to the council.

She said: “While it is a great school, they are extremely short of space within the public areas. The school will benefit greatly from the addition of a purpose-built sports hall. A new nursery and permanent addition of two classrooms will also be welcome.

“The plan will maintain a good amount of playground, including the wonderful woodland area, so overall the children will benefit very much from the proposed improvements and I hope they proceed as quickly as possible.”

The existing gym and nursery are currently detached from the main primary school teaching building. Under the plans, these buildings would be removed and replaced next to the teaching building.

A new James Gillespie’s High School was given the green light last month as part of a £42 million campus project, part funded by the Scottish Futures Trust, which includes the improvements to the primary school.

The whole project is expected to be completed by 2015.

James Gillespie’s Primary School Parent Council “enthusiastically supports” the proposed redevelopment.

City education leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren said: “The new James Gillespie’s campus will allow greater integration between the nursery, primary school and high school, and this will hugely benefit one of our outstanding primary schools.

“It will help staff to work together to deliver the highest standard of education.”

However, parent Andrew Chambers – who lives in Relugas Place – said that, while he supports the proposal, he has concerns about “possible detrimental effects”, such as the “removal of non-resident car-parking spaces during the period of work to allow for portakabins, skips or further resident-only parking”.

Meanwhile, Labour’s education spokesman and ward councillor for Meadows and Morningside, Paul Godzik, said: “I’m pleased that this development has been recommended for approval, and it will be welcomed locally.

“Yet, with so many local primary schools experiencing significant overcrowding, we do need to look across the school estate and map out future demand and provision.”

It is recommended that councillors approve the application, subject to conditions relating to materials, residential amenity and archaeology.

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com