Designs for new primary schools in Moray have been criticised as being “industrial” and lacking “inspiration”.
Last year, the council completed work on a replacement building for Elgin High School.
Yesterday, final plans were approved for the new Linkwood Primary School in the south of the town just months after a revamped Lossiemouth High School cleared the same hurdle.
But during talks in the council chambers, the multi-million pound projects were criticised for not being aspirational enough.
Forres councillor Claire Feaver criticised the design for the new Linkwood school, likening it to a “retail park”, while calling for more planting and landscaping to be done on the site to minimise its impact on the environment next to the Moray Sports Centre, which is already under construction.
She said: “We as a council should be setting the level to which we wish all future developments should reach. This does not achieve that standard, we have to do better.
“Given the fact that we could end up with three industrial-style buildings plus fenced ‘compounds’ in what will be a residential area – it is really important we at least get the landscaping right.”
Forres councillor Aaron McLean argued a large atrium at the new Elgin High School was a “vast improvement” on older schools and was an “inspiring” setting for students.
An external roof terrace, allotment, outdoor classroom and wetland habitat have been included in the Linkwood plans.
The school was originally due to be open after this year’s summer holidays, but that has now been knocked back to late next year. Pupils are currently being taught in temporary accommodation at East End Primary School.
The approval of planning permission yesterday is expected to keep the project on-track amid fears it might be 2020 before pupils are taught in classrooms, which have space for 476 students.
Concerns persist about the cost of the project, which was initially budgeted at £12.3million.
Planning officers admitted at yesterday’s meeting that planting on the site had been reduced on the site as part of a “cost exercise.”
Council leader Graham Leadbitter explained that final approval for the school would be a “huge relief” for parents.
He said: “With a rapidly growing roll at Linkwood and an increasing roll for East End there had been a real concern about any further delay in construction.”
The plans were unanimously approved at yesterday’s meeting of Moray Council’s planning committee.