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Council plans for extension at overcapacity Aberdeen school shelved

Plans for an extension at Bucksburn Academy have been removed from the council's immediate spending plans.
Plans for an extension at Bucksburn Academy have been removed from the council's immediate spending plans.

Pushing forward with an extension at an already overcapacity Aberdeen school was described as “foolhardy”, as councillors removed the £1.5 million project from immediate spending plans.

Council co-leader, and resources convener, Douglas Lumsden claimed uncertainty about post-Covid requirements for school buildings made proposals to expand Bucksburn Academy unsuitable.

Plans for thousands of homes in the catchment area have left the secondary, which only opened in 2009, teetering on the brink of over-capacity.

The now-shelved extension was being designed to increase capacity by 300 at the PPP school, which the council will still be paying for in 2039.

Education officials rezoning of youngsters for Kingswells and potential delays in building a school in Countesswells could drastically affect the roll, in the worst case leaving Bucksburn 259 pupils over the limit by 2025.

At a meeting on Thursday, the Conservative said it was not clear whether the council would need to make changes to the school estate plan.

“We should wait to see what the new Scottish Government guidance will be on that,” he said.

“Taking that into account it would be foolhardy to agree the extension of Bucksburn Academy until we have more information, which is why we are saying it should not be referred to the council budget setting process.”

Mr Lumsden ordered officers to review the school roll projections in the meantime.

Aberdeen Labour colleague, Ross Grant, reinforced that there was “no question” of the administration’s commitment to “get it right” for Bucksburn once the picture was clearer.

But opposition councillors, led by the SNP Ciaran McRae, argued soon, it would “likely be overcrowded if we do not act”.

Liberal Democrat Ian Yuill said while the pandemic had effected “everything”, the council “cannot hit the pause button on long term projects”.

Council must U-turn on Bucksburn Academy extension

And last night, the Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent coalition in charge was accused of “disgraceful” inconsistency, after work began on a new £16m school in Milltimber last September.

Councillor Jackie Dunbar said: “It certainly seems like a postcode lottery when it comes to this administration, with the likes of Milltimber’s new school pressing ahead.

“The school roll is expected to exceed capacity in the coming years so the administration must re-think this decision and ensure the Bucksburn extension is delivered.”

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