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Saturday, July 20, 2024

£2bn Highland Investment Plan 

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Since the approval of the £2.1bn Highland Investment Plan in May, plans have been progressed and engagement has commenced with various stakeholders on some of the projects.

Leader of the Council Raymond Bremner said:

“This update demonstrates our commitment to driving forward an immense programme of investment in Highland communities.

“It is our intention to engage with partners and communities and bring options for exciting masterplans in Dingwall and Thurso by the end of the year.

“The Council’s level of investment in Highland, together with Green Freeport benefits, will also help to promote economic confidence and lever in commercial funding across the region for years to come.”

Convener Bill Lobban said:

“Our plans for significant long-term investment enables a strategic approach to planning for communities, together with our partners, which will incorporate an integration of services designed to improve the quality of life for local people.”

Chair of the Education Committee Cllr John Finlayson added:

“The Highland Investment Plan is fantastic news for school communities across the Highlands. Alongside the projects set out here, there is a programme of interim improvements for schools taking place throughout the summer recess.”

Phase One Locations

Work is advancing at pace on plans for Dingwall where a review of assets had previously been undertaken and therefore plans are currently at a more advanced stage.

The key elements that have been identified so far, include replacement accommodation for Dingwall Primary and St Clement’s as the key components alongside community facilities and co-located services. 

The community provision looks to include community, sports and leisure facilities for the Dingwall Academy Associated School Group, in line with the strategy agreed by the Education Committee in November 2023. A new or improved area depot, with opportunities for colocation will also be explored with other potential partners.

In line with the Options Appraisal Process, it is proposed that the preferred option for Dingwall brought to the Council meeting in December 2024 along with a short list of options for Thurso’s Secondary School and 3 Primary Schools.

There will also be an update on progress and timescales for the other five locations agreed as priorities for delivery within Years 1 to 10 of the Highland Investment Plan.

Local masterplans and options appraisals are to be developed for these, initially focused on the following schools.

  • Alness: 3 Primary Schools;
  • Brora: 1 Primary School;
  • Dornoch: 1 Secondary and 1 Primary School;
  • Golspie: 1 Secondary and 1 Primary School;
  • Invergordon: 1 Secondary and 2 Primary Schools;

School Projects

A list of school projects were agreed at the Council meeting in May to be progressed to design and tender stage.

These are Beauly Primary, Charleston Academy, Dunvegan Primary, Fortrose Academy and Inverness High.  

All have had masterplans or concept designs prepared in recent years and these are being reviewed in terms of the revised strategic policy for new capital investment, with updated place-based masterplans to be established.

However, all could potentially be delivered within 3 to 5 years, subject to the availability and profiling of funding.

  • Beauly Primary: New build, with options currently being reviewed.
  • Charleston Academy: New build based on a masterplan for the redevelopment of the entire campus including the Community Complex and potential future relocation of Kinmylies Primary – Continued development of the initial masterplan. RAAC issues need to be addressed as a priority in line with Policy.
  • Dunvegan Primary: New build as part of a masterplan with an adjacent housing development (16 units), a community sports pitch, and a new shared access road.  Tenders have been received for the access road and discussions are ongoing with Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association regarding the joint funding of this project to allow for the road to be completed this year.
  • Fortrose Academy: Refurbishment and partial rebuild of the older part of the campus.
  • Inverness High: Final phase of refurbishment and partial rebuild to complete the overall retrofit programme. 

Formal Stakeholder Groups for these schools will either be reconvened or established by the end of September.

Longer term Projects

Initial work to develop masterplans for longer term priorities in the following locations is also proposed:

Kiltearn Primary School (An assessment of the long-term Community solution is required.

If the preferred option were to be a new build on a new site, then site options would need to be explored at an early stage and considered in the context of the Local Development Plan.)

Kinmylies Primary School (A replacement building was included in the masterplan for the redevelopment of the Charleston campus which could be considered as part of the Charleston project or as a subsequent phase)

Culloden Academy (The revised capital programme approved in September 2023 includes £3.5m of funding over the next 5 years; £1.5m in 2024/25 (mainly for the new synthetic playing field) and £0.5m in each of the 4 subsequent years.

Rosebank Primary School Millbank Primary School (A Local Place Plan is being developed for Nairn so there may need to be some early engagement on the longer-term options for primary school provision.)

Tarradale Primary School (An initial assessment has been carried out for a potential option to acquire a site currently zoned for housing and swap it for the existing school site. 

Potential co-location opportunities would need to be explored to determine the preferred long-term solution.)

Grantown Grammar School, Kingussie High School, Mallaig High School, Plockton High School and Primary School, Farr High School and Farr Primary School, Bettyhill.

The full report can be found here (item 11).

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