Boroughmuir campaigners say new site ‘too small’

The Fountainbridge site which has been earmarked for the new Boroughmuir. Picture: TSPL
The Fountainbridge site which has been earmarked for the new Boroughmuir. Picture: TSPL
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COMMUNITY leaders have attacked plans to cram Boroughmuir High pupils into a new building they claim will not be big enough to hold them.

They hit out as education chiefs pressed ahead with proposals to build replacement premises for Boroughmuir – recently named Scottish secondary of the year – in Fountainbridge.

Critics insist the capacity of the new school, at 1165, would be too small, with the existing roll already standing at 1152.

And they claimed land allocated for the project is less than half of what is being envisaged to build a replacement for Portobello High School.

Mairianna Clyde, chair of Merchiston Community Council, said: “I’m concerned the school is confined to such a small area – it is not much more than the 0.9 hectare of the current school.

“In Portobello, they’re claiming they need over four hectares for a new school in a park, which is what the Scottish Government would recommend for a school of 1400. My question is why they think this much smaller site is suitable for a school for almost 1200 pupils – are our kids any less needy than those in Portobello?”

The criticisms emerged after education bosses granted planning permission in principle for the current plans, under which a new school would be built next to Dundee Street in Fountainbridge.

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

Fresh proposals for replacement premises also include an amendment to retain a public park as part of the development, which the Evening News understands will be located next to the Union Canal.

Ms Clyde welcomed the commitment to protecting green space but said there were ongoing concerns over the site’s size. “If they are building a school that will already be at capacity when it opens, that will create a problem going forward,” she said.

In a consultation response to education chiefs, leaders of Tollcross Community Council said vacant land to the east of the proposed development should be made available. They said: “1.67 hectares for a school of 1165 pupils is too small, particularly when in excess of 4.5 hectares is proposed for Portobello with 1400 pupils.

“In fact, the site is much smaller than Government guidelines.”

Boroughmuir High’s parent council said they would wait for the release of detailed designs before commenting.

A spokesman said: “We are looking forward to seeing the plans when they are launched but it would be premature to comment further until we have seen what the architects have drawn up.”

Education bosses said they were confident parents and pupils would be “delighted” once full plans are published.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “The capacity of the new school for 1165 pupils will be sufficient to accommodate both existing and future catchment demand.”