Midlothian education: Questions over new Shawfair secondary school raised by councillors

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New school plans in doubt at new town on the outskirts of Edinburgh

Plans for a new secondary school within the new Shawfair community in Midlothian have been put in doubt after councillors claimed no decisions had been made over funding it – four years after it was first unveiled.

Midlothian Council agreed to planning permission in principle for an education campus at the former Monktonhall Colliery site on the outskirts of Edinburgh in 2019, with proposals for the site to provide primary and secondary school facilities for families moving into the new housing.

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But at a meeting of Midlothian planning committee this week councillors raised concerns that the secondary school was now not certain to go ahead. Councillors were being asked to note a pre-application notice which has been lodged by developers to start remediation work on the former colliery site in preparation for the education campus which was initially expected to open next year.

The new town of Shawfair has a planned education campus in its masterplan.The new town of Shawfair has a planned education campus in its masterplan.
The new town of Shawfair has a planned education campus in its masterplan.

Peter Arnsdorf, the council’s planning chief, told the meeting that provision of an education campus was integral to the Shawfair development, which will see a new town of 4,000 sustainable homes built once completed.

However Councillor Stephen Curran raised concerns about children from Danderhall having to cross the A6106 to get to the new Shawfair School adding ‘if and when it gets built’.

He said: “That road is a 12 metre wide road, there is a transition from national speed limit to 30mph and I am wondering what the plans are, how are we going to deal with safety concerns if pupils are crossing the road.”

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And Councillor David Virgo raised his own concerns about the future viability of a secondary school, telling the committee: “Councillor Curran made the point about Shawfair High School and ‘if and when it gets built’.

“The reality is that it is only ‘if’ at the moment. We still haven’t made enough decisions around our capital commitment to be in a position to say that school will get built.”

Councillor Virgo said the committee should not be making decisions on an application without knowing what the council intends to do at the site.

He said:”We need as a council to make a decision on what we are spending our money on before a decision like this is made.”

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Mr Arnsdorf said the pre application notice was from developers on the site and did not ‘lock in’ the council to providing a school there. He said: “This is a pre-application notice from developers, not the council, to uphold their commitment to remediate the site.

“This isn’t locking in the council to a decision either on the planning application for the high school or financial commitments to it. That is a much bigger decision that still needs to be taken.”