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Highland Council grants planning permission for new £54 million Nairn Academy which is set to open in 2026


By Scott Maclennan

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View from south east. Picture: Reiach and Hall Architects.
View from south east. Picture: Reiach and Hall Architects.

Pupils in Nairn are set to get a brand new £54 million school after councillors granted planning approval to replace the current academy effectively ending a years-long wait for a new building.

The plans were approved by the south planning applications committee meaning the new three-storey school will be built on land adjacent to the current academy in Duncan Drive, accommodating up to 720 pupils.

The new building is expected to open for pupils after the summer of 2026 and will also include associated car parking and a new on-site energy centre while the current academy building will be demolished.

In the picture: View from south east. Picture: Reiach and Hall Architects.
In the picture: View from south east. Picture: Reiach and Hall Architects.

The synthetic pitch and grass pitch will be retained alongside a new 60m x 40m synthetic grass pitch and multi-use games area, a 100m running track, new games hall, gym and fitness suite.

However, concerns were raised over suggestions that Nairn’s public library on the High Street could be moved to the new academy – such changes have increasingly become the practice – raising fears about accessibility.

Councillors were advised that this is “not a material planning consideration” with library provision within schools not something that falls under planning control. But they were also told: “Notwithstanding the above, members will wish to note that in response, the applicant has stated that: ‘No decision has been made to move the public library at this time.’”

The current Nairn Academy. Picture: James Mackenzie.
The current Nairn Academy. Picture: James Mackenzie.

The report continues: “The proposed development is considered to present a significant and welcome opportunity to replace the existing school with a modern, fit-for-purpose building as well as providing an opportunity to enhance existing sport and recreational facilities that will benefit school students as well as the wider community.”

Several conditions have also been attached to the presumptive permission including the completion of a noise impact assessment that takes account of potential disturbance to nearby residents given that the new school’s leisure facilities will also be available for use by the general public; archaeological works to be carried out before construction begins;and a new pedestrian crossing to be created - at a site to be determined - prior to the new school becoming operational.



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