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£10m shortfall for school redevelopment

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
£10m shortfall for school redevelopment

COUNCIL chiefs are trying to find the additional £10 million that’s needed to progress their recently-agreed development plans for Dumfries Academy and Loreburn Primary.

Councillors last month agreed to move forward with proposals for an extensive refurbishment at the secondary school with a new build PE block, while also relocating Loreburn staff and pupils to the Minerva building at Dumfries Academy.

While these are scaled back development plans compared to what was originally hoped for – if Scottish Government funding had materialised – the project still costs significantly more than what Dumfries and Galloway Council has budgeted for.

The matter is due to be discussed at the council’s finance, procurement, and transformation committee next week.

A report, which will be tabled at the meeting, states: “The current estimated costs for the recommended options totals £32.6m, which is £9.7m in excess of the budget currently available in the approved capital investment strategy, and the overall shortfall is estimated at £10m when additional council project management and oversight costs are included.

“It has been requested that development costs of £3.2m are agreed from within the existing project budget already agreed within the capital investment strategy.

“This will enable the detailed designs and associated works for both elements of the project to be developed to a tender ready stage.”

Mo Agoun, the council’s property estates and programmes manager, who authored the report, explained that identifying the additional £10m of funding will be considered at the full council meeting in September.

He added: “This will require either additional borrowing beyond current estimates, with resultant increases in loan charges necessitating the identification of further revenue savings beyond existing targets, or the restriction of funding available for members to invest on other capital investment priorities.”

In the meantime, councillors will next week be asked to approve the spending of £3.2m for the detailed design work for the Dumfries Academy refurbishment and Loreburn Primary relocation.

Loreburn parents protested against the decision to move to Dumfries Academy’s Minerva building – preferring a new-build school on the Langlands School site in Dumfries.

Heidi Wu, chairperson of Loreburn Parent Council, said: “A ‘co-location’ in Minerva building is effectively a merger since the full footprint is not ring-fenced for Loreburn usage and Dumfries Academy will continue to use rooms on the first floor.

“In addition, shared gym and dining areas is a merger and we have every confidence this will lead to one ‘superschool’ in due course – an outcome parents do not support and is therefore closure of Loreburn Primary.”

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