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Clock ticking to secure Scottish Government funding for a new Nairn Academy building

By Gregor White

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The current Nairn Academy building.
The current Nairn Academy building.

Local councillors are keen to make sure Nairn Academy is on a list for the next round of Scottish Government funding for new schools.

A deadline of September 2020 has been set for applications to the next round of the national Learning Estate Investment Programme fund.

Nairn councillors Tom Heggie and Liz MacDonald want to make sure Nairn Academy is on the list after missing out to Tain Academy in the last funding round announced earlier this year.

They are calling on Highland Council to make steady progress on a business plan for the school, claiming the Nairn Academy building is “not fit for purpose” after it was categorised as having the worst energy efficiency rating in the Highlands.

Cllr MacDonald, who was one of the first pupils at the current school when it opened in 1981, said: “I think the problem is getting a business case and then a definite proposal for a new school.

“Highland Council seems to be reluctant to do the groundwork.

“We need to have something for the Scottish Government so that they can make a decision on whether the school will be on a list for funding in 2020.

“I was one of the first pupils in 1981 and it was leaking in the very first year.

“It just never really worked as a school building.”

Cllr Heggie said: “Nairn Academy is next on the plan for Highland Council.

“Highland Council is progressing a business case to provide a campus that will meet the community needs.”

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “The current position is that there have been ongoing discussions with the school to develop a case that would support any future bid for funding.

“The intention is for work to progress over the next couple of months. A business case would be one of the key outputs of that work.

“In parallel, informal discussions with planners have been progressing to understand any matters to consider in relation to any future developments at this site.

“Consideration is also being given to the planning and timing of site investigation works, the timing of which would need to fit into the requirements of the school and minimise any disruption.

“The time scale has not as yet been finalised. It will be linked into the forthcoming review of the council’s capital programme.”

Highland MSP Edward Mountain is backing improvements for Nairn and said: “It’s clear to me that more progress needs to be made.”

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