Campus designs under the spotlight

Brechin’s proposed Community Campus was the main topic of the City of Brechin and District Community Council’s meeting on March 5 with public members joining the community council to hear about the development from Angus Council officers and contractors.

Architects from jmarchitects attended the meeting along with representatives from Hubco and Robertson Constructions were on hand to answer queries from members of the community council as well as public members.

Angus Council’s project manager Gordon Cargill said: “In terms if moving forward, we have been involved in lots of public consultation. The point we are approaching is putting forward a planning application for the development. Because this is such a major development in terms of the community the planning rules require that before we event lodge a planning application we are required to go through a 12 week consultation period.”

Gordon added that people who were unable to attend the public meetings can still view the plans when they go on display and would be able to pass comment on them

He stressed, however, that any feedback given on the plans at this stage was informal and would not be a formal representation in terms of planning. Any feedback at this stage helps tweak plans and address any changes that need to be made.

“When the formal process starts that’s the time when people can make representations in terms of the planning authority,” Gordon explained.

“By the time we get to the formal planning stage I hope that we will have addressed most of the issues.”

It is hoped that the formal planning application will be made around June 3.

Concerns were raised by members of the public who lived close to the development site over the effect the new school could have on their house prices as well as concerns over privacy.

During the discussion, it appeared that residents had not been contacted directly since the final location was decided although it would affect more residents.

It was stated by architect Ian Alexander that the boundary between the school and houses would be 45 metres, ten metres more than at the current school however for some residents this would be just 20 metres.

It was suggested by members of the community council that a compulsory purchase of the homes could be made however this was not a step that Gordon Cargill thought was not necessary.

He said: “Compulsory purchase is an exceptional step. We believe we can build the school without doing that.”

The Community Council was given assurances that the residents would be contacted and consideration given to their concerns.

With concerns over the location of the school building it was confirmed that, subject to planning approval the school would be built on the west of the site.

Ian Alexander, architect at jmarchitects, said: “Building on the west of the site gives the ability to avoid expensive groundwork.”

Ian also explained that having the school on the west allows for the creation of a 3G pitch, something that he claims would not have been possible if the school was to be built on the east.

Community Council convener Grahame Lockhart commented: “The City of Brechin and District Community Council welcomes the willingness of Angus Council officers and representatives of the contractors to come to our Community Council meeting to discuss the Campus project and to respond to the questions from members of the community.

“Quite a number of those who attended the last Campus presentation in Brechin High School were surprised that the location of the new building on the site had changed from earlier expectations and this was an excellent opportunity for them to air their concerns. We welcome the commitment that Council officers will ensure that a dialogue will take place with residents and hope a satisfactory solution is found.”

Since the plans were first unveiled on February 14 a number of changes have already been made, including adding an additional lane to the swimming pool to allow the pool to be used during school hours.

It was confirmed by senior service manager Bill Strachan that the community campus will have implications for the leisure centre and that the Damacre Centre will be surplus to requirements in its current form.

“The leisure centre will continue where it is,” explained Bill.

“Once planning is approved a decision will be made.

“We believe the Damacre Centre can take place during the day at the school.”

The updated plans will be displayed from March 13 to 15 in the school, the library, the Damacre Centre and the leisure centre, to give as many people as possible the opportunity to contribute.