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Property Capital Programme Update Confirms Big Reduction To Building Schools Programme

10th November 2023

Housing and Property Committee met on Thursday 9 November 2023 and noted the position at the end of the second quarter of the 2023/24, and the estimated year-end financial position. Members also noted the progress of the major works programme, including the revised school programme and the remedial work due to RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) at Charleston Academy and Nairn Academy.

Housing and Property Committee Chair, Cllr Glynis Campbell Sinclair said: "The Highland Council are facing incredible cost pressures in the shape of inflation, high rates of interest, reduced funding and inflated construction costs which together are all extremely challenging for the Housing and Property Estate as they work to progress their Capital Programme.

"The report presented today, identifies the mitigation measures the service is taking to maintain statutory compliance, however the Revised Capital Programme (2024/25 to 2028/29) impacted by a reduced level of funding requires programme adjustment."

The implications for the next five years are listed below:

The acquisition of the new site in Dingwall for St Clement's School will be concluded this financial year, using funding included in the one-year Capital Programme approved in March 2023.

No further design work will be carried out on the Beauly Primary, Culloden Academy, Dunvegan Primary and Park Primary projects. Planning applications will not be submitted as any permissions obtained would expire after 3 years.

Work will continue the designs for the Charleston Academy and St Clement's School projects to Concept Design Stage (in line with the schools listed above) planning applications will not be submitted as any permissions obtained would expire after 3 years.

The 5-year Capital Programme includes funding in 2024/25 for a new synthetic playing field at Culloden Academy.

Funding is also included in 2024/25 for a new access road at Dunvegan as part of the overall design masterplan for an eventual new school building, a housing development on adjacent land, and a community playing field. The cost of the access road will be apportioned with Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association.

Remedial works at Charleston Academy and Nairn Academy due to RAAC, is estimated to cost at least £500,000 and is funded from the Structure and Fabric budget of the Capital Programme. Costs includes specialist RAAC structural engineering surveys, high and medium risk remedial works and associated costs.

School Estate Improvement Programme - The programme of works will continue to progress to carry out essential improvements to school buildings, including meeting the Council’s obligations to address immediate roll pressures and suitability issues (including adaptations for pupils with specific needs). A summary of the projects being taken forward in 2023/24 and into 2024/25 is included in the full report available here (Item 7 -Appendix 3).

Cllr Campbell-Sinclair added: “We all share the deep disappointment that our LEIP bid was unsuccessful although fully meeting the criteria. We have 200 schools in our vast estate and, despite investing millions of pounds in delivering school replacements and essential care and maintenance in Highland, we still have 68 school buildings (34%) that have an overall rating of “C-Poor" for Condition and 74 (37%) which are rated “C-Poor” for Suitability.

“Included within these figures are schools that require urgent attention due to the presence of RAAC and HAC. Indeed, nationally, the percentage of schools graded as ‘Good’ is nearly 91%, whereas in Highland it is just under 20%.

“Given the very real concerns over the condition and suitability of our estate, the Leader and Convener have written to the Cabinet Secretary to request a discussion on what investment options might be considered to ensure our school estate provides a conducive learning environment for children in the Highlands and provides greater equity with the rest of Scotland.”


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