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Plans for new Nairn Academy still dividing opinion

By Donald Wilson

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A consultation is taking place on plans for a new Nairn Academy.
A consultation is taking place on plans for a new Nairn Academy.

Further concerns were raised about plans for the new Nairn Academy during a consultation event.

Held at the current school to give members of the public a chance to see more about what is planned and gather feedback, those attending raised issues about access and disturbance.

Representatives from two community councils also attended to lobby planners.

They believe the public is being presented with a fait accompli in terms of building the new school in the existing grounds when there are alternative sites which would provide more space for community facilities.

Among those attending was David Proctor of Lochdhu which, along with Duncan Drive, would provide an access for the new school.

“I do think it’s the wrong place for a new school,” he told the Courier. “It should be at Sandown or near Sainsbury’s where it would have less impact.”

But he also acknowledged: “We do need a new school.”

Duncan Drive resident Kenny Macleod was particularly concerned about access during construction.

“But there’s not much information here,” he said. “And I don’t see [the new school] being big enough if we get all the additional planned housing.”

Council to consult on proposed redevelopment of Nairn Academy

The academy’s current roll is 693 while the new building would be able to accommodate 760 pupils.

The build was included in phase two of the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme and funding for it is included in the capital programme approved by Highland Council last January.

A planning application is expected to be lodged in September, with work to start next summer for a late 2025 completion.

Headteacher Julie Macdonald believes the new school will be a boon.

“It will provide much better facilities for our pupils, both in the classroom and outdoors,” she said. “It’s acknowledged that the existing school is no longer fit for purpose and has been for years.

“Although there are issues with building on the existing site the architects and planners are confident that these can be overcome. There has been a lot of input by staff and pupils and we are really excited to be involved in the planning for our new school.”

She added the school was indebted to the late Tom Heggie for all he had done as a Highland councillor to campaign for the new school.

“Both staff and pupils will be acknowledging Tom’s work in some way in recognition of all the work he did to promote the case for a new academy,” she said.

A further consultation is proposed in August when a lay-out of the building and possible resiting of existing playing fields will be available for inspection.

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