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‘Learning Town’ costs rocket

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By Rod Edgar
'Learning Town' costs rocket

AN EXTRA £21 million cost could be added to the first expanded phase of a schools overhaul in Dumfries - before a brick has even been laid.

Costs of nearly £3 million due to contaminated and flood-risk land at the site of the new North West Campus have helped drive up Dumfries Learning Town forecasts from £45 million to over £66 million.
Dumfries and Galloway Council argue changes to the first phase have been made as a result of community engagement.Council leader Ronnie Nicholson said: “It is clear from the widespread engagement that local people are ambitious about the project, not only to benefit current learners but for generations to come.
“Following consultation, there is a clear view that we should bring forward aspects from phase two to phase one, such as the new Langlands.”
He added: “The sheer scale of what we now want to achieve requires more investment
but it is still modest given that in phase one alone we are replacing three schools and transforming another.”
The report shows anticipated costs of the learning hub have dropped from £10.6 million to £9.8 million.
But extra costs of about £11 million each have been forecast for the redevelopment of
St Joseph’s College and creation of a new north west Dumfries campus replacing Maxwelltown High School, Lochside Primary and St Ninian’s Primary.
Extra costs include £1.9 million to tackle contaminated and poor quality land at a location used as for landfill in the 1960s at the bottom of Lochside, and now earmarked
as the site for the North West campus.
And a further £1.1 million is required to address flood risk issues, as much of the site
sits within an existing flood zone.

Independent councillor Jack Groom says he flagged up the issue ‘at every single meeting’. His worries were echoed by North West Dumfries councillor Graham Bell, who says he is keen to see a new school built for the sake of his constituents.
Next week’s report warns final costs will ‘inevitably’ be higher than the £66 million projection due to construction price inflation.
Subsequent phases include creation of a Central Campus for Loreburn Primary and
Dumfries Academy, a campus in the north east for Noblehill Primary and Dumfries High School, and a new build Laurieknowe Primary School.