Community campus is moving forward

PLANS to bring a new community campus to Forfar are moving forward.

Following an extensive consultation process, the plans are progressing to the next stage.

At a meeting of Angus Council’s education committee last week, members agreed to appoint a team to undertake detailed designs for the £24 million project.

As well as a state of the art new secondary school, the campus will incorporate a swimming pool and sports facilities for use by the school and the wider community.

In a report presented to the education committee Margo Williamson, strategic director of people, said: “While there are a number of concerns to address while the project is being developed, the significant body of feedback would appear to thoroughly support the community campus approach.

“The main matter raised by staff predominantly related to a desire to maintain a position where each teacher has their own classroom.

“Some community concerns relate to the location of the campus and neighbours have indicated anxieties relating to how the existing site many be re-developed.

“The community has also identified the potential for improved public transport arrangements to support access to the campus, while the opportunity to improve current challenges in Taylor Street outside the school at main pupil movement times appears to be welcomed.

“Some concerns have been raised relating to the implementation of management arrangements that will support school and public use at all times (including public access during the school day), and concerns over the future of the vacated old town swimming pool and Lochside Leisure Centre buildings have also been raised.

“None of these issues are insurmountable; however it is important that they are acknowledged as part of this feedback.”

She continued: “Notwithstanding those issues, the significant opportunity to have modern, purpose designed facilities to support and enhance learning and teaching has also clearly been acknowledged and embraced by a wide spectrum of the community.

“Positive feedback has also been received in relation to the potential for improved partnership working to increase and support new and improved opportunities in relation to lifelong learning, the pursuit of various spots/leisure activities and engagement in community life generally.”

A number of key issues must now be addressed as the plans progress.

Travel plans and transport arrangements to support the use of the community hub is one of the main issues.

Full planning permission and building warrants must be submitted for the works.

Management and operational arrangements must be developed to support the school and community use of the campus facilities.

The future of the existing facilities must also be decided.

Education convener Sheena Welsh said: “Angus Council is committed to providing first class learning environments and facilities which communities can enjoy using and can be proud of.

“The campus approach allows us to being together a range of enhanced services and facilities, purpose designed for use both during and outwith the school day by the whole community.”

Concept designs for the campus will be available in the autumn, and in the meantime, discussions will continue with the community, pupils, staff and parents to explore their requirements for the new facilities.

Councillor Welsh added: “I would like to thank all those who took the time to give their feedback on this project and I look forward to working with the community as this major project takes shape.”