School project hits new milestone
AMBITIOUS plans are moving forward for a remote Lochaber community to build its own school.
A planning application for the first community- owned school in Scotland has now been submitted to the Highland Council.
Strontian Community School Building Ltd (SCSB), the company that owns the land adjacent to Ardnamurchan High School, hopes plans for the £750,000 school will be accepted by the local authority, enabling work to start at the end of July.
The Rev Donald McCorkindale, chairman of SCSB, said: ‘We hope the planning permis- sion will be granted without any problems in the next six weeks.’
The school will comprise two classrooms to accommodate up to 50 children. Currently the school roll stands at around 35.
Mr McCorkindale said a significant design feature of the school is that it is built ‘around the footprint of four houses’.
‘We have to future-proof this project, and we wanted to come up with something that will be an ongoing asset for the community,’ he said.
‘In 2027, the ownership of Ardnamurchan High School will revert back to the Highland Council, and when plans around the future of Strontian Primary School were discussed, it was suggested that at this point, the primary may be relocated to the high school.
‘If this was to happen, we wanted to make sure the land will still be of use to the community and therefore could be converted into housing.’
Adding another piece to the jigsaw, SCSB has had a £700,000 loan granted from Triodos Bank, which will make up the rest of the balance needed to build the school.
SCSB’s community share offer ended at the end of February, giving it £150,000 towards the project, and at the end of last year it secured a £ 50,825 cash injection from the Scottish Land Fund.
This year money began to flow in from the Sunart Community Renewables (SRC) hydro scheme to the village’s common good fund.
The fund has given out £ 35,969 to seven different community groups, one of which was SCSB.
The company received £24,000 from the Sunart fund towards the school.
Mr McCorkindale said the school could be completed by April 2018, with a view to getting the children in for the start of term in August 2019.