Moray Council has rubber-stamped plans to reshape education in the region’s biggest town by building a new primary school.
The scheme was approved to tackle a capacity crisis at existing schools, and developers plotting a major expansion in the south of Elgin say they are “focused” on having the building in place within two years.
A site for the school has been earmarked to the west of the town’s Linkwood Road, and it will be connected to a multimillion-pound sports centre which is also scheduled to open in 2018.
Yesterday, members of the local authority’s children and young people’s services committee heard there was a “desperate” need to increase classroom space in Elgin and unanimously backed the project.
Senior education adviser, Paul Watson, said rolls had increased by 22% in Elgin’s eight primaries since 2011.
While the new school is under construction, children zoned for it will be taught in vacant space at East End Primary and will share several facilities with the children there from August.
The council has faced opposition from East End parents, who feel their youngsters are getting a raw deal by having to split their canteen, playground and gym space.
They also say that fuelling additional pupils to the building will create traffic problems on the surrounding streets.
But Moray Council has dismissed their complaints as “exaggerated” and said the move was key in alleviating overcrowding.
Earlier this month, Elgin-based Springfield Properties unveiled a masterplan to create 2,500 homes on the town’s southern fringe.
The massive development includes space for the school, on the proviso that Moray Council agreed the new building was necessary.
The company will build the new school, which will cost up to £12million, on behalf of the local authority.
Springfield chairman, Sandy Adam, said he was “delighted” with the committee’s decision and predicted it would “permanently relieve” the strain on primary schools in that part of the town.
He added: “Springfield teams worked with council officers and other stakeholders to prepare the masterplan, which includes a site for the new primary school.
“The council’s projections of pupil numbers indicate that the school must open by August 2018, and we are focused on making sure this date can be achieved.”
The council also launched moves to avert a potential capacity crisis at primary schools in Forres.
Officers will now consult residents on possible adjustments to the town’s catchment zones.