New school in the pipeline as city eyes up brewery

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A NEW Boroughmuir High could be open by 2016 if the council proceeds with plans to build a replacement on the former Fountain Brewery site.

Lloyds Banking Group, which owns the Fountainbridge site, has accepted the council’s bid to buy the land for the school.

Councillors are now set to vote on whether to proceed with the purchase at a meeting next Thursday.

But the decision on building a new school will still have to go out to public consultation, with education chiefs hoping to start the process in January.

Two options will be put on the table – the new-build school or a refurbishment of the current Viewforth building.

A new report reveals that an on-site refurbishment would take up to three years longer than building a new school.

Refurbishing on-site would also require a whole-school decant for up to three years due to the “extensive nature” of the work and the limited size of the land at Viewforth.

Education bosses have identified two potential sites for pupils to go to during the decant – the former Oaklands Special School in Broomhouse and the former Burdiehouse Primary.

The council would be forced to spend up to £8 million buying temporary units to be turned into makeshift classrooms, while another £1m may also have to be found to pay for free bus passes for pupils to travel to the new location.

The authority is favouring the new school option.

City education leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren said: “Boroughmuir has been on the re-build list for many years so these are very exiting times.

“The Fountainbridge site will allow the school to be developed within a city centre location, on the Union Canal in a special learning environment.

“We’ll put the school ethos and the school community at the heart of this development.”

The new school would be built on just one part of the 4.7 hectare Fountainbridge site and the council plans to sell a “substantial” part of the remaining land for development.

Council developer EDI has already been approached by the unsuccessful bidders for the site who are still interested in investing and developing.

Campaigners have been fighting for a new Boroughmuir High for years, and it has been on the council’s “wave three” school rebuilding programme for years, along with Portobello and James Gillespie’s high schools, which are also being rebuilt or refurbished.

The Scottish Government confirmed last year that Boroughmuir would benefit from funding through the Schools for the Future programme and it will contribute around two thirds of the construction costs of a new school.

Education director Gillian Tee said: “The replacement of Boroughmuir High School has been a council priority for many years, impeded by the availability of funding, difficulties of securing a site for a new school and the complexities of a redevelopment on-site.

“Having explored all alternatives, it is considered that the only realistic option for new build for this school is on the Fountainbridge site.”