Edinburgh's former Castlebrae High School to be demolished after vandal attacks

The former Castlebrae High School in Craigmillar is to be demolished after the building was targeted by vandals as soon as pupils had moved out.

By Ian Swanson
Monday, 13th June 2022, 1:02 pm

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The new Castlebrae High School, in Craigmillar town centre, opened on April 26 and within a fortnight windows at the old school had been smashed, the building broken into and toilets vandalised. Police were also called to reports of people on the roof.

Some education department staff were still based at the old Castlebrae and the plan had been for the building to remain operational, though with large parts of it closed.

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But faced with the repeated vandalism, council chiefs decided urgent action was needed. Remaining staff were relocated and demolition contractors were called in to bulldoze the building at a cost of up to £750,000. Preparations are under way and demolition work is expected to start by the end of next month.

A report to the council’s finance and resources committee, which meets on Thursday, said: “Following relocation of the pupils, the old school immediately became the target for unforeseen vandalism which, despite security measures being taken, continued to escalate. Given the emerging health, safety and related liability risks, a decision was taken to urgently secure demolition of the building.

"Over the first weekend, the building suffered from unforeseen and sustained vandalism attacks with the police and council security called out several times. Security was immediately enhanced, but due to the size of the building and the location next to the green belt, the effectiveness was continually compromised.

"As the continuing threat escalated, the health and safety risks rose exponentially particularly in areas of potential physical injury and to disturbing asbestos. In parallel with the council’s own concerns in this regard, the police service also sought that the council acted urgently to address these unforeseen issues as a priority.

The old Castlebrae High School was targeted by vandals as soon as pupils had moved to their new building. Picture Ian Rutherford.

"As the risks had escalated to unacceptable levels, the remaining council services were relocated forthwith, with the recognition there was an immediate need to secure demolition of the structure as soon as reasonably practicable.”

The report adds that demolition will begin once all asbestos has been removed from the building under controlled conditions.

Portobello/Craigmillar Labour councillor Jane Meagher said she was disappointed by the vandalism at the old school but pleased that the staff who were working there had temporarily moved out to more suitable accommodation.

She continued: “There hasn’t been a decision yet about what to do with site, but it’s most likely that, if it’s suitable, it will be used for housing. This is great news for the city where the shortage of housing is a problem that we are working to solve.

"I’m very excited about the new Castlebrae school which provides first class accommodation for the young people of Craigmillar and makes Craigmillar an even more attractive place to live.”

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