Education chiefs yesterday fielded concerns that the preferred site for the new Peterhead Academy is too far from the town’s most deprived areas.
Some pupils will face a two-and-a-half mile journey to school if the campus is created at Kinmundy – an edge-of-town site.
And Alan Buchan told colleagues yesterday that could prove problematic for families without access to cars.
It was a note of caution on a day when there was also significant positivity around the proposal of a site after years of discussion and consultation.
A report on the Peterhead Community Campus was added as an emergency item to the agenda of the Buchan Area Committee so they could discuss it ahead of a full council meeting this week.
Councillors generally expressed gratitude to the officers involved and were pleased a preferred site for the £71 million project had been proposed.
But Mr Buchan said: “Moving to Kinmundy has an issue.
“People involved with the academy for years will know there have been problems with attainment levels, though this has slowly improved.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
“The Scottish Government has been working to improve the attainment gap but the east of Peterhead is one of the most deprived areas of Aberdeenshire.
“No-one has said how pupils from there will travel two-and-a-half miles for school.
“Most of the people there don’t have cars, so some days would be asked to walk the distance there and home in the rain, which I don’t think will help solve the attainment gap.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s head of resources, Craig Clement, presented the report and responded to the comments.
He said: “In terms of attainment, we’re looking here at what is an exciting and fit-for-purpose educational facility.
“There is no direct correlation with attainment but there is the opportunity to create a state-of-the-art school.
“With regards the transport aspect, in any community there will always be pupils who live further or closer to the school and part of the process would be to look at safe walking routes, public transport and other things.
“From home to school, anyone over three miles away gets free school transport.”
Chairman Norman Smith was delighted his committee had been able to discuss the site and implored his members to encourage the progress.
He said: “I think we should welcome this as there has been a lot of work done and that’s why we want to push it on.
“I think we need to be positive and, with this coming to the full council this week, should all be happy with this progress.”
Councillor Alan Fakley added: “I would like to emphasise the cross-party efforts here over the past two years in that no-one has caused any delay in this moving forward.”
Members called for a town centre impact report to be presented to them as soon as possible.
As well as a secondary and primary school, the Peterhead community campus will include a nursery, sports facilities and a 300-seat theatre, on more than one site.