Campaigners seek school site commitment

The replacement of Banchory Academy was the top priority in the local community action plan
The replacement of Banchory Academy was the top priority in the local community action plan

Fears have been raised that a site reserved for a new school in Banchory could be lost unless there is a commitment from Aberdeenshire Council.

Land at Hill of Banchory has been set aside for educational use in the current Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan (LDP) and work is under way on the new LDP.

The council says the condition and suitability of all schools is regularly reviewed

The council says the condition and suitability of all schools is regularly reviewed

The council has written to local groups saying that in order to retain the land for a new school in the town, a demonstration of commitment to the reserved site and its likely progression will be required by planners - even if identified as a long-term aspiration.

Local campaigners claim that the continued failure of the local authority to make any commitment to delivering a new secondary school in Banchory leaves the future of the proposed site hanging in the balance.

Local resident Alasdair Ross told the Piper: “The council have said that they have no plans to replace Banchory Academy now, or anytime in the foreseeable future.

“We have been told to think about a timeline of 20 or 30 years but the council have no plan in place for that either.

“No one is expecting a new school to be built in five or ten years, we are realistic about that. We want to know now that there is a plan for the future.

“We are lucky enough to have land set aside for a new school and it would be ridiculous to see it vanish from the local plan because our own council aren’t planning far enough ahead.”

Campaigners are asking local people to contact their elected representatives to make their opinions known ahead of the council’s March 31 deadline for sites to be identified for consideration in the new LDP.

Banchory Community Council has written to the council outlining its concerns and expectations for the retention of the site, saying its loss would be “totally unacceptable”.

Chairperson Mary Lennox said: “Banchory people are rightly very proud of our school. It has provided generations of the young people of this area with a first class education and in educational terms is consistently one of the best schools in Scotland.

“We are aware that money is tight, but feel that the young people of Banchory and district deserve a good quality learning environment. Indeed a new academy was the number one priority for the community in the action plan published in June.”

A council spokesperson said: “We continue to invest in an ambitious programme of improvement for our schools with replacement secondary schools agreed for Inverurie and Peterhead in our capital plan. The condition and suitability of all schools is regularly reviewed in order to prioritise future expenditure.

“At this time it remains the position of the council’s planning policy team that the ‘school site’, R3 (for educational uses) in the local development plan, should be retained in the main issues report for the emerging proposed local development plan.”