Portobello High School: Fear new school may take 5 years

Campaigner calls for appeal to ruling over Portobello Park
Campaigner calls for appeal to ruling over Portobello Park
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A LEADING campaigner in the fight for a new Portobello High School has told how he fears a new campus could be five years away.

Sean Watters, chair of Portobello For A New School (PFANS), believes an appeal should be lodged against last week’s court judgement that ruled it would be unlawful for the council to build on Portobello Park because of its protected common good status.

He also urged the council to pursue a change in legislation that would allow a school to be built on the parkland, rather than opting for another site somewhere in the city.

Mr Watters, whose daughter Etta, 11, is due to enrol in Portobello High next year, said: “Even if the council found the ideal site tomorrow – a different site that wasn’t going to be contentious – just getting a school built on that site would take four to five years minimum.

“That’s how long the process takes, from the statutory consultation, appointing a team for the design and going through planning. It’s a long process.

“With the design the council has, if it got to a point where it could build on the park, it could build the school within two-and-a-half years of getting the go-ahead.

“So even if some kind of legal process like an appeal took two years, building on the park would still get the new school built more quickly.”

Mr Watters stressed that “giving up” on siting a campus on Portobello Park “didn’t make sense”, and said the council would be “nuts to walk away from the one good site” for the new school.

“You have got to at least look at it again because none of the other options are as good or quick,” he said.

The city council is understood to be looking at alternative options – including an appeal to the Supreme Court and finding an alternate site for the development – as it tries to move forward from the legal setback.