THE ONE POUND SCHOOL
Written by Gordon Neish Friday, 09 September 2011 14:55
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The council wishes to close the buildings currently occupied by Dunoon and St Mun’s Primary schools and house a joint campus at the site of the current Kirn Primary school. In late 2009 the Scottish Government agreed to pay half of the £13m cost of the campus, the remaining £6.5m to be raised by the council.
A document, Dunoon Primary School, Redevelopment of Joint Campus: Outline Business Case was published by the council earlier this year.
It notes that the project is being managed and monitored by the Scottish Government’s Scottish Futures Trust and that from approval of the Outline Business Case to handover of the finished school would take four years.
The document goes on to reveal that five sites were considered for the joint campus: The former gasworks site on Dunoon’s Argyll Street (rejected because a supermarket has expressed interest); The site of the former Spence Court flats in Argyll Road (too small); Dunoon; St Mun’s and Kirn Primary School sites.
Kirn was chosen as the preferred site because of the associated council-owned playing fields – the top field at Dunoon Stadium.
Then, on page 190 of the document, headed ‘Development Opportunities’, the statement: “Information has been received by the council’s estate surveyors team which suggests the following values may be obtained from the sale of the properties which would be surplus as a result of the construction of the proposed joint campus: Dunoon Primary – £1. St Mun’s Primary – £315,000.”
The council’s Estates Surveyor commented: “I have valued Dunoon Primary at £1. It is a listed building and only suitable for conversion to residential or possible office or business use.
“However, conversion of the building is unlikely to be economically viable and, as such, grant assistance may be required for any conversion proposal to proceed.”
A woman with two children at Dunoon Primary School said: “I am disgusted that the council have put a value of £1 on Dunoon Primary School.
“That is a complete insult to all involved with the school. If the council believe this is a fair value, then perhaps they should justify why they have allowed the building to depreciate to such a level. When I heard this valuation, I almost went round to the council offices myself to buy the school.”
We asked the council if it was, in the vernacular, ‘having a laugh’.
Council leader Councillor Dick Walsh responded, saying: “Notwithstanding the advice supplied in the report regarding the potential valuation of this property, a number of other factors will require to be considered.
“If the proposed joint campus becomes a reality, the current Dunoon Primary School site would have significant potential in terms of community regeneration through future housing or commercial considerations.
“The council’s priority would, of course, be to ensure that its future use provides maximum benefit both to the community as a whole and to the town centre economy, while clearly recognising the advice supplied that the property is listed. This should not be viewed in any way as negative to future uses and development.
“The site as located is in a prime area in Dunoon with much potential, and this will be considered as part of any development arrangement.”
Cllr Walsh concluded: “Any potential use will be subject to future consultation and discussion with our community.”