Burdiehouse special school gets green light despite flood fears

A new special school will be built in the south of the Capital despite a government body objecting over flooding fears.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 8:47 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 8:52 am
An artist's impression of Burdiehouse school. Picture: TSPL

A replacement St Crispin’s School will be build on the former Burdiehouse Primary School site, which was demolished in 2010. The new school will provide for 72 children with additional support needs. The new school will replace the current St Crispin’s School, which is in the Blackford area of the Capital.

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The school will also include a small swimming pool and a specialist behavioural support unit that will support St Crispin’s and other additional support needs schools from across the city. The new school will be used as a community hub, providing facilities and accommodation after schools hours and during holiday periods for families of children with special needs, partner agencies and charity groups including The Yard. The main school building will also include a wild-flower roof.

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But the Scottish Environmental Protection agency (SEPA), objected to the application on principle, due to the site being on the flood plain of the Burdiehouse Burn. SEPA objected due to the school being “within an area of importance for flood management” and the footprint is in the one in 1,000-year climate event prediction. But officers revealed a like-for-like replacement of the former Burdiehouse School would have received no objection.

Ground levels will be raised to minimise the impact of flooding and the proposals conform to the council’s own flooding guidelines. The application will now be reviewed by Scottish Ministers, due to SEPA’s formal objection.

Gordon McOmish, team leader from the council’s flood prevention team, said: “We are comfortable that the best practice has been applied here.

“It doesn’t matter what we put back, SEPA will object because of the footprint of the flood plain. SEPA’s view is that land-rising should be avoided unless there are exceptional circumstances.”

Planning convener, Cllr Neil Gardiner, pushed for the application to be approved and acknowledged there should be a wider debate on building on flood plains in the future.

He said: “It does open up questions at a city level about building on a flood plain. SEPA will still be able to make their views known through the government.

“On the basis of what we have heard, I wish to move the officer’s report and approve this application.”

But Cllr Chas Booth said: “I have very serious concerns we are under-estimating the severe frequency of flooding. We may be putting the users of this building at risk of flooding and other people who work or live along this watercourse at risk of flooding.”

Councillors approved permission.