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Project to breath new life into Aberdeenshire school gets under way

Mearns Academy
Mearns Academy

A project to breath new life into a disused Aberdeenshire school and reopen it as sports and community facility officially got underway yesterday.

The Laurencekirk Development Trust (LDT) met with Planning Assist for Scotland (PAS) and Aberdeenshire Council on the first day of a local consultation to draw up ideas for the former Mearns Academy site and several other public buildings in Laurencekirk.

The first round of talks on the community consultation project – also known as a Charette-Plus – was held at the new Mearns Academy Community Campus.

Among the ideas so far is to turn the old Mearns Academy into a swimming pool, however there are also suggestions for other buildings in Laurencekirk to be brought back into use as cafes and nurseries.

Using research and feedback from the consultation, the groups will draw up a business plan along with a series of ideas and designs.

Chairman of the LDT and vice-chairman of the Mearns Community Council, Jim Stuart, said there is “an appetite” in the community for action at the school site and the town as a whole.

He said the goal of consultation was to see what can be done to “improve the quality of life” for residents.

David Wood, planning and policy manager at PAS, said: “We are a charity that helps people get involved and get engaged in the future of their local area.

“We will try and gauge ideas and aspirations out of discussions with the trust and what we hear at the community events.”

Secretary of the LDT, Mike Robson, said the Charette-plus event would “prepare a range of options for the old academy” using feedback from the public.

Students from Dundee University also attended yesterday and have been tasked with drawing up plans for the old school site.

Mr Robson said: “They have been given briefs to come up with suitable development plans for the old Mearns Academy. But the PAS remit is much wider, it is future planning for the whole village.”

The community engagements will take place in the coming weeks, with the aim of holding a final event showcasing the ideas at the end of March.

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