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Former north-east academy to be demolished

Mike Robson, secretary of the Laurencekirk Development Trust
Mike Robson, secretary of the Laurencekirk Development Trust

A former academy in the north east is to be knocked down, despite a community bid to buy the building.

Yesterday, councillors agreed to demolish the former Mearns Academy and put the site on the open market.

They also agreed on a similar course of action with the former Ellon and Alford academies.

However, during the Policy and Resources Committee meeting, councillors did agree to retain the playing fields based at Mearns Academy.

The decision to dispose of the building has come as a blow to local group, the Laurencekirk Development Trust, after they made a bid to retain the property as a community asset and submitted a business case for the site.

Mike Robson, secretary of the Laurencekirk Development Trust, said: “We are delighted that they are retaining the playing fields and it’s great they acknowledged the need for that.

“We understand that the decision to demolish the school was not an easy one for them to make, but they did give us time to make our bid even though it is quite unusual for a community group to take on a project of this size.

“We were not surprised by the decision, but we now hope to move forward and see the playing fields being utilised in the best possible way.”

Councillors stressed that the door remained open for the trust to return with proposals for how they might use the field site, described as more “manageable”.

The committee were generally supportive of the trust’s vision that the site should benefit the local community and confirmed this would be taken into account when any decision on its future was made.

Chair of the committee and council co-leader, Martin Kitts-Hayes, said: “The committee was unanimous in its support for the efforts of Laurencekirk Development Trust in looking to the future.

“With support from the local area management team, the group has put in a huge amount of work into looking at the future options available for the former academy.

“I would emphasise that our decision to demolish the building and create a brownfield site opens up those options.”

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