Doubts over school construction plans as dispute over Greenock Catholic high school continues



School building plans were in doubt for up to a year.

The councils have been lobbying the Scottish Government for an update on the details of the next phase of the school infrastructure program which allows them to fund new school buildings and extend or modernize existing buildings.

They were told that information on the new apprenticeship investment program would be released before Christmas.

However, ministers confirmed today that plans would instead be drawn up for “the next 12 months” – putting any new construction projects planned for that period at risk.

READ MORE: £ 100million Greenock program ‘doubts’ size of Catholic schools

The development comes amid doubts whether a £ 100million project in Greenock will continue after concerns over the capacity of a local Catholic secondary school.

Inverclyde planners recommended that the number of houses built on the site be limited to 60% of the developers’ proposal citing “capacity issues” at St Columba High School near Gourock.

Inverclyde councilor Chris McEleny argued that instead of reducing the number of houses, the council should expand the size of the school.

Former Rangers shareholders and businessmen Sandy and James Easdale, along with Advance Construction, have offered the £ 100million housing and community scheme at the site of the former IBM factory in Greenock.

READ MORE: Former Ranger shareholders fear ‘capacity issues’ at Greenock Catholic school

They want the development to include 450 new homes, but Inverclyde council officials have not recommended that the green light be given for 270.

A report to the Planning Council of Inverclyde by the Interim Director of Planning and Regeneration of the Council of Inverclyde said there was no objection to the development on educational grounds, although the high school local Catholic has “some capacity issues.”

He said, “Education – no objections. It is advised that the development be in the watershed of St Columba High School, which is currently under some capacity pressure.

“However, the evaluation of education services, based on the information currently available, indicates that the school area will be able to accommodate additional students of this development in the future.”

The report added: “After careful consideration, therefore, the conclusion is again that in order to protect its interests, including the achievement of the wider development of Spango Valley Priority Place, and to be fully aware of the potential impact on the capacity of the denominational secondary school, the board should conditionally control the number of residential units at the application site up to the previously mentioned maximum figure of 270.

The Inverclyde Council Planning Board will make a decision on the request in January.

In a parliamentary response written Thursday, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the Scottish government would take stock of the apprenticeship investment program “over the next 12 months”.

She said: “The learning investment program has made significant progress since the first projects were announced in September 2019, with projects under construction and development representing an investment of $ 1.2 billion. pounds sterling in the area of ​​learning.

“The Scottish Government intends to announce the projects that will be part of Phase 3 of the program over the next 12 months.

“We will write to local authorities to seek investment proposals in 2022 and in the meantime we will work with the local government to agree on the timetable for the development program.”

Scottish Labor’s Education spokesperson Michael Marra MSP said: “This pitiful update fails to bring a shred of clarity to the SNP’s plans for essential upgrades to our schools.

“A lot of boards have project proposals ready to go, and with that delay, it’s putting them at risk. School grounds are vital for program delivery and learning, but too many of our schools have been abandoned.

“The past two years have shown that much of our field is not conducive to health and wellness, including persistent ventilation failures.

“These projects are essential, but again our Education Secretary who does nothing is doing nothing.”

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