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‘Journey of joy’ as consultation on school’s new building moves forward

St Clement's School exterior shot
St Clement's school in Dingwall.

A north specialist school could be moving to a new building in what has been described as an “exciting time”.

St Clement’s School in Dingwall is one step closer to a new location after councillors approved a public consultation.

Under proposals put forward by Highland Council, the school might make the switch from its current home on Tulloch Street to Dochcarty Brae.

Members of the authority’s education committee approved the launch of a public consultation which will begin in a matter of days.

According to a report discussed at a meeting on Thursday, the consultation will begin on March and run until the end of April.

St Clement's School, Dingwall. 
St Clement’s School, Dingwall. Picture by Sandy McCook.

The document on St Clement’s said that the move would make school a “healthier, less stressful environment” for pupils.

It also revealed that the budget for the project is £13 million and that talks on the sale of the land needed for it are “progressing well”.

The changes at St Clement’s are part of a £60 million commitment from Highland Council to improve a number of schools.

‘Exciting time’ for town

Speaking at the meeting, councillor Margaret Paterson said a new school is “long overdue” and urged people in Dingwall to give it their backing.

She said: “My goodness, what an exciting time for all the members in Dingwall and Seaforth and the people in the area.

“Going forward with a statutory consult for St Clement’s is fantastic news. It’s been a long time coming but it’s so welcome.

“Local members have worked together for many years to see this day. A statutory consultation is the start of a journey of joy. Let the consultation start. Please support it.

“A new school for St Clement’s is long overdue.”

The site of the proposed new St Clement's School in Dingwall outlined in Google Maps. 
The site of the proposed new St Clement’s School in Dingwall.  Picture by Google Maps.

Councillor Graham Mackenzie said St Clement’s had been on a ” lengthy journey” and hopes there is a “positive response” to the consultation.

He said, despite being critical of work on St Clement’s previously, he has welcomed the move to start a consultation.

Mr Mackenzie said: “This is indeed a very special school and at the start of this year we neither had the funding or any notion of going to statutory consultation.

“I have been deeply critical of how the council has gone about this process and publicly so on a number of occasions.

“So it’s only right that I thank the officials and all the individuals who have worked so hard to bring this to fruition, in Dingwall, which is what we always wanted.”

A 2014 inspection found the school buildings “do not provide a satisfactory range or quality of facilities”.

It added narrow corridors and doorways are a “challenge pupils with limited mobility”.

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