Edinburgh schools: RAAC crisis set to cost city up to £50 million for school repairs

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Eye-watering cost to repair Edinburgh schools

The cost of making Edinburgh schools which were built using dangerous crumbling concrete safe has been estimated at up to £50 million.

It comes after Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) was found in eight city schools and a further four council-owned properties following extensive surveys.

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Safety concerns over the lightweight concrete sparked a UK-wide response last year when hundreds of schools were closed or partially closed.

But action came after years of warnings from experts who for long have said the cheap material, used commonly in the construction of public buildings up to the 1980s, was now life-expired and liable to suddenly collapsing.

Now after totting up the total bill for remedial works council bosses estimate these could set the authority back £50m. It’s expected around £15m of this will need to be spent in the next three years, with up to £36m extra set to be budgeted for long-term costs.

The amount spent addressing the crisis in Edinburgh to date is just under £2m.

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The figures were contained in a report going to the finance and resources committee, which included an update on the situation in the buildings affected.

“The estimate includes allowance for ongoing inspections, continuation of scaffolding hire where necessary, any temporary remedial measures such as propping of RAAC panels and further survey work which will be carried out in line with structural engineering guidance,” the report said.

“The extent of surveying across the estate has been significant and carried out at pace.”

Trinity Primary School 

Some pupils at Trinity have been moved into temporary classroom units due to a number of classroom ceilings containing RAAC. The school will require a roof replacement “on the entire area impacted by RAAC”.

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The report states: “This work has been split into two stages with the priority being the classrooms roof due to the ongoing cost of the decant accommodation and the technical complexities of the second stage.”

Work on the first phase is scheduled to start “early 2024” with completion estimated for this Autumn.

Including both phases and hire temporary classroom hire costs are estimated at £3.8m.

Cramond Primary School 

Portakabin classrooms have also been required for some learners at Cramond Primary where parts of the school have been closed off. The area covered by RAAC needs a roof replacement with works due to commence “early 2024” to be completed by Autumn.

Including classroom hire the cost will be around £2.9m.

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Lorne Primary School 

Crumbling concrete was discovered in the “entire roof area” of Lorne Primary’s main building.

However inspections revealed it was “in good condition” and mitigation works already commenced to reinforce the upper floor ceiling have allowed “reoccupation of the upper floor” which have brought the school back to operational capacity.

The report said in the medium to longer-term options will need to be considered to replace the whole roof, costing up to £3m.

Fox Covert/St Andrew’s Primary School 

Circulation and office spaces at St Andrew’s Fox Covert remain operational following completion of initial mitigation works last summer.

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Currently the school gym hall and dining hall remain closed but “are expected to re-open early in 2024” the report states. “The kitchen will be closed in the longer term until safe mitigations are designed. In the meantime, hot meals are currently being delivered to the school.”

The cost of replacing the RAAC in the longer term are “more complex than the other impacted buildings”.

The report states this is due to “the extent of work required, the potential costs and the wider condition of the schools”.

It adds: “There are also other strategic factors to be taken into account including future demand for places in the wider catchment areas (particularly for St Andrews RC Primary School), linked to the new housing emerging as a result of Local Plan allocations. Options will therefore require further detailed appraisal and analysis and will range from roof replacement to whole school replacement.”

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Long-term costs associated with RAAC are estimated at between £20m and £30m.

Four of the Edinburgh schools affected by RAAC issues. Clockwise from top left: Currie High School, Trinity Primary School, Lorne Primary and Pentland Primary.Four of the Edinburgh schools affected by RAAC issues. Clockwise from top left: Currie High School, Trinity Primary School, Lorne Primary and Pentland Primary.
Four of the Edinburgh schools affected by RAAC issues. Clockwise from top left: Currie High School, Trinity Primary School, Lorne Primary and Pentland Primary. | National World/ Google Maps

Colinton Primary School 

Initial mitigation measures required at Colinton Primary were “minimal and implemented quickly” with no impact on school operation.

Longer term, plans will be drawn up to replace RAAC roofs “with a phased approach” at an estimated  cost of £2m.

Pentland Primary School 

Currently Pentland Primary’s kitchen and part of a corridor are “not capable of use due to the RAAC being in poor condition”.

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However with additional classroom space available and school meals being delivered there is “currently no significant impact on school operation,” according to the report.

It adds: “Plans are being developed to replace the RAAC roofs with a phased approach. The estimated cost of the roof replacement works is £3.102m.”

Currie High School 

The crumbling concrete was discovered in the old gym block, assembly hall and an art classroom which all remain closed.

The gym hall and art classroom will not re-open before the new £65m Currie Community High opens in 2025.

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Detailed inspections in the assembly hall are ongoing to determine if short-term measures could allow it to re-open. The cost of work undertaken to date is £24k.

Former Darroch Annex Building

RAAC was identified in a “small extension” of James Gillespie’s High School’s Darroch Annex. While the space is not needed for operational purposes the report says it’s likely it will need to be demolished at an estimated cost of between £250k and £500k.

Peffermill Depot 

A “small area” of RAAC was found at the council’s Peffermill Depot which has been “isolated without any operational impact”.

The report says: “Longer term the depot is due to be demolished as part of a wider regeneration programme.”

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Blackhall Library 

Blackhall Library was closed last year after it emerged the “entire rood” contained RAAC. Surveys of the overall condition of the concrete panels is ongoing however many have been assessed as being in a “poor condition”.

The report says: “In a large section of the building the ceilings and services require to be removed in order that the detailed assessment of each plank can be completed.

“The building will not be able to reopen until the RAAC, which is in poor condition, has been replaced.

“The options to replace the RAAC in longer term are complex due to the extent of work required, the potent costs and the wider condition of the building.”

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Options will range from replacing the roof to replacing the “whole building”. The cost of this is estimated at up to £6m.

Edinburgh Leisure have identified “a very small area” with RAAC which has been isolated without having any impact on operations.

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