86% of public backs new school over refit of existing site

A new Boroughmuir High School is to be built on the former Fountain Brewery site
A new Boroughmuir High School is to be built on the former Fountain Brewery site
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A BRAND new Boroughmuir High School, complete with a rooftop sports pitch, is to be built on the former Fountain Brewery site after receiving overwhelming public support.

A public consultation was launched in February proposing either a new high school at Fountainbridge, or the refurbishment and extension of the existing building at Viewforth.

Four public meetings in March were attended by more than 300 people, with scores of responses also received via letter and e-mail.

Of the 177 responses received, 131 people – 86 per cent – said they preferred the new build on the Fountainbridge site.

Building the school – which will offer 1150 places, on the site of the former Fountain Brewery – was the city council’s preferred option, with Lloyds Banking Group accepting the local authority’s bid for the land last year.

Councillors will now be asked to approve the new multi-million-pound school at a meeting later this month.

If they follow the recommendations of council officers and give the plans the green light, pupils could make the most of the canalside location by taking part in activities such as canoeing.

Forth Canoe Club has expressed an interest in delivering a “new joint facility” on the school site, which would see the club set up its base there. A seven-a-side rooftop all-weather pitch or outdoor multi-use games area is also part of the plans.

Work is expected to start on the building in summer 2014, with the new school opening in 2016.

Most of the concerns raised during the consultation regarding the size of the Fountainbridge site related to the limited provision of outdoor sports facilities and the continued need to bus pupils off-site to use facilities at Meggetland, including a full-size pitch.

In a report to councillors, Billy MacIntyre, head of resources for the children and families department, said: “The council is clear that it cannot deliver full-size playing pitches on the Fountainbridge site. By providing an outdoor sporting space on a roof deck, a larger element of the curriculum could be offered here, instead of the requirement to be bussed to Meggetland, as would exist with the current site.”

Mr MacIntyre said building the new school at Fountainbridge offered “clear educational and financial advantages”, avoided disruption, was better value and a quicker option.

At the meeting on June 28, councillors will also be asked to approve “minor revisions” to the catchment area of Boroughmuir and Tynecastle high schools, and Bruntsfield and Dalry primary schools, from the year the new school opens.