Education chiefs have revealed they want to build Peterhead’s new £77million academy on the outskirts of the town – despite fears about the impact the move would have on the local economy.
Aberdeenshire Council wants to build three new schools in the town, as well as new community and sports facilities.
And now officers have revealed they want to build the campus on the edge of town, near Kinmundy Road, to ensure the replacement secondary school can go on the same site as a primary and the community facilities.
The alternative was to build around the current site on Queen Street.
However, fears were raised last night that taking pupils away from the town centre at lunchtime would hit shops and businesses that rely on their trade.
Other residents insisted though that they were more likely to visit if they knew they would not have to queue up with hundreds of teens.
The Kinmundy Road option means the existing campus – which is around 60 years old – would be torn down replaced with a new primary school.
The project means primary school capacity in the town will be increased overall.
In total, the new schools will provide 1,300 secondary places, 350 primary places as well as pre-school provision.
Building on the outskirts of the town will match similar multimillion-pound campuses in Ellon and Alford.
Aberdeenshire Council’s director of education Maria Walker said the results of a lengthy public consultation – which included a information event on November 22 – showed a preference for an out-of-town site.
“The emerging preferred option is to develop a campus at the Kinmundy Road site,” she said. “This option provides the opportunity to develop a full community campus.
“It has the advantage that there will be no disruption to users during the construction phase, all facilities can be provided at one location and there are no site constraints.”
However Mrs Walker acknowledged concerns that the move may have “a negative impact on the town centre”.
The estimated construction cost of the project is between £67million and £77million depending on which option is taken.
A poll of parents who attended the November information evening showed that 67 out of 91 attendees backed the out-of-town proposal. A further 138 letters of support were received. A total of
24 letters showed support for keeping the new campus in Queen Street.
But some campaigners have warned the decision to move hundreds of students away from the heart of Peterhead could cripple an already struggling local economy.
Town centre resident and former academy teacher Stephen Calder said: “I’m dead against it. It would have a devastating effect on the town centre. It would also take community facilities out of the heart of the town. It’s ridiculous.
“The kids not going into the shops would have an effect.”
Mr Calder added the move would be contradictory to the “town centre first” principle the local authority is supposed to apply to all its decisions.
Some parents however said moving hundreds of teenage students away from the town centre was a positive step.
One parent, who did not wish to be named, said: “I feel it will regenerate the town centre – the community are more likely to use the town at lunchtime if pupils are not there.”
Another academy parent added: “Public health is likely to improve away from supermarkets and sweet shops. Currently pupils purchase whatever is on offer.”
Councillors on the Buchan area committee will discuss the options when they meet on Tuesday.