East Garioch councillor Martin Ford has expressed doubts as to whether Aberdeenshire Council will be able to open the planned second Kintore school in August 2016.
Cllr Ford has said that progress on the the proposed new primary school now depends on the current owners of the site, the Scottish ministers and the weather.
“It’s touch and go whether the Council can get the building finished in time,” said Cllr Ford. “Every day now counts as there is no spare time left should anything cause even a short delay.
“Having pressed for the new school for many years, I will be extremely disappointed if opening is delayed again. It’s clearly very important that the pressure on space at the current school is reduced by getting the new school open as soon as possible.
“From making a start on site to having a new primary school ready to open generally needs about 15 months. So the Council would want construction to be starting any time now to be fully confident that the second Kintore school will be ready for use in August 2016. Any delay in starting work beyond early May brings major risk of not being ready in time, for instance if there is a very wet autumn or significant snow next winter.”
Aberdeenshire Council is seeking a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to acquire the site needed for the school. Following the public local inquiry last week, the Scottish ministers are expected to decide in favour of a CPO shortly.
Said Cllr Ford, “If ministers take a very quick decision in favour of a CPO, compulsorily purchasing the land and getting the school finished for August 2016 would be just possible if the weather is co-operative. It will take three months from the ministers’ decision for the Council to get possession of the site through the compulsory purchase route. A start on site in August leaves a year for the building work. If there is a dry autumn and a mild winter, completion for August 2016 might be managed, but the odds aren’t good – less than 50:50.
“A much better scenario, from the point of view of the existing school, its pupils and the Council, is that the landowners now agree to sell the site to the Council. Sale by agreement could be completed very quickly.”