Arts hub loss could pay for new primary school

The old Boroughmuir High building is in demand
The old Boroughmuir High building is in demand
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A BID to build the Capital’s first new primary for more than 30 years is among planned projects set to benefit from cash generated by selling the old Boroughmuir High School, it has emerged.

Securing and purchasing a site for the campus in south Edinburgh – where neighbouring primaries are bursting at the seams – would be assisted with the receipt of up to £14.5 million if housebuilder Cala Homes’ bid is successful.

It is understood other possible developments – including provision of a new nursery and gym for Leith Primary – have been earmarked for investment.

Early indications of how councillors might spend the proceeds came after Cala was confirmed as preferred bidder for Boroughmuir’s category B-listed site.

Details of a £6.2m offer from Out of the Blue Trust – which wants to turn the school into an arts space featuring studios, performance areas and workshops – have also been set out.

Councillors will meet next week to decide which bid to accept.

But fresh fears have been sparked over possible delays to the Boroughmuir project after it emerged award-winning restoration firm City & Country – currently working with Cala to progress a troubled revamp of the old Donaldson’s School – was among 14 snubbed bidders.

Kate Tregaskis, a local resident, charity worker and parent of a child who attends Bruntsfield Primary, said it would be “tragic” if Boroughmuir remained empty when there are artists and small firms that could move in “tomorrow”.

She said: “I think that this sale is being rushed through. I am not convinced that the property developer’s bid makes more financial sense in the medium to long term than what Out of the Blue is proposing.

“I would like to see the decision delayed so that a more sophisticated economic analysis of the bids can take place and so that the community can be properly consulted.”

Pupils and staff at Boroughmuir High are due to move to a £35m campus on the grounds of the former Fountain Brewery next year.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader and member of the city’s finance and resources committee, said: “We’ve got to look very carefully at all the bids that come in, we’ve got to assess them and ensure we make the best decision for the local area and city as a whole.

“We absolutely know there’s a need to put more money into our schools and we know we have a significant pressure in terms of rising rolls.

“These are things we have to address, we’re committed to addressing them and many people from across the council have demanded that we do that.”