Community bid for building refused

The former Market Place School building has been vacant since its pupils relocated to Uryside
The former Market Place School building has been vacant since its pupils relocated to Uryside

Members of the Garioch Area Committee have refused a local group’s bid to take over the running of a former Inverurie school.

The Garioch Partnership had applied for a Community Asset Transfer in a bid to transform the Market Place School building into a third sector hub.

However after discussing the plan at a meeting of the Garioch Area Committee on Tuesday, August 28, councillors decided to refuse the application.

During the debate, councillors said that their decision was made as they felt the business case was not robust enough, that what the Partnership were prepared to pay was too low compared to the value of the estate, and the model by which they proposed operating it was not financially sustainable.

Members of the committee told the Partnership that this was not a straightforward decision, which was given the correct amount of scrutiny as a result.

The debate referenced an amount of misinformation locally about the Community Campus and what it will provide.

They stressed that the new facility will add more community space to the town, which can be used alongside the school, not in isolation.

The perception that the community will only get access out with school hours is not the case, and the facility has been designed to ensure the community and school will use the premises side-by-side.

Speaking after the meeting, Garioch Area Committee Chair Cllr Fergus Hood said: “Committee took this decision today based on the application before us.

“The application and business case we scrutinised did not fully articulate either the community or financial benefits of this transfer.

“It is our view, and that of officers in their recommendations, that this application was not detailed enough, not fully thought-out and placed a number of expectations and burdens on Aberdeenshire Council.

“The offer from officers and members still stands, we would like to work with the Garioch Partnership to find them a more suitable location for a third sector hub.

“We support the aspiration behind this application but we do not think that this application we saw today will fulfil this need.”

Market Place School closed its doors in October last year and its pupils relocated to Uryside School.

The town centre building has been vacant since.