Worst school building would cost £3.5m to fix

The Duncan Place Resource Centre was closed in September. Picture: JANE BARLOW
The Duncan Place Resource Centre was closed in September. Picture: JANE BARLOW
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A “neglected” school building used by community groups is set to be 
bulldozed because it would be too expensive to repair.

The Duncan Place Resource Centre in Leith was closed in September after an inspection raised structural concerns.

A report has now revealed “significant issues” and said it would cost almost £3.5 million to refurbish it.

The Duke Street centre, the worst of 144 school buildings, was still being used for PE 
lessons, as a nursery for Leith Primary and by 70 community groups when it was closed earlier this year.

Simon Sawers, of the User Group Management Committee, claimed that many of the defects in the report had been noted as early as 2009 but “not addressed”.

He said: “The council’s handling of this issue is an indictment of the way they have handled all of Leith’s other community assets.”

The city will use the £387,000 set aside to install a lift to fund the demolition instead – a move which Mr Sawers described as a “final kick in the teeth”.

Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, has also called for an investigation into how the building was allowed to deteriorate.

He said: “The council must investigate how Duncan Place fell into such a state of neglect and ensure this never happens to any council building again.

“Just as important as rebuilding the bricks and 
mortar is rebuilding the community’s trust, which has been badly eroded in this sorry saga.

“While the people of Leith are deeply shocked that the council has allowed the building to be so badly neglected, we must now focus on the future and ensure the fantastic resources available in Duncan Place are not lost for good.

“The council must listen to users of the centre and the wider community.”

All but two of the community groups who used the building have accepted alternative accommodation.

Cllr Paul Godzik, education, children and families convener, said the building had been closed as a “precaution” following a review.

He said: “Officers will now look at the long-term options for the site.

“We absolutely recognise the need to provide Leith Primary School with the PE and nursery facilities it needs, but also to ensure that there is adequate community space in the area.”

There are now 12 nursery, primary and secondary schools which have or are close to showing “major defects”, affecting 3350 pupils.

The city is pressing ahead with a £30m emergency investment plan to bring all schools up to a satisfactory standard by 2019.