Madras College new-build or rebuild?: that’s the question

Ground plan of Station Park, St Andrews.
Ground plan of Station Park, St Andrews.
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The choice facing Fife councillors over the long-awaited decision on the site for a new £40 million secondary school in St Andrews is quite simple.

That’s the view of the New Build, No Rebuild campaign group, who spoke to the Citizen on the eve of the meeting of the local authority committee which will decide on Thursday, November 10.

Do councillors rush ahead with a hugely unpopular proposal to refurbish the Kilrymont junior school resulting in a building with many compromises, or do they take further time to fully consider all the options, and deliver the state-of-the-art institution that the children of St Andrews and the surrounding area deserve - possibly at Station Park.

Group spokesman Brian Thomson said: ”We have been overwhelmed by the level of support for our campaign for a new-build Madras College. Over 2000 people have signed our petition and the message from the public is loud and clear that they do not want a refurbished Kilrymont.

“The council’s ‘consultation’ on the scoring exercise has been, at best, half-hearted and rushed. The scoring fails to stand up to the most basic level of scrutiny and has been blatently manipulated to ensure that the option favoured by the council’s officers came out on top. They have failed to explain why delivering a new school by 2015 is crucial.”

The group maintain that it has become apparent that the Kilrymont site is too small and that the council’s own plans for a refurbished school there clearly demonstrates that view.

In particular, the group claim that the refurbishment option would result in the retention of a split-site school as pupils would need to be bussed to Station Park for certain sports, while in transportation terms it is in the wrong location and the council’s officers have failed to argue otherwise.

Mr Thomson continued: ”The disruption to pupils during a refurbishment, which would involve temporary accommodation in cabins for at least two years - and to the community use centre - would be unacceptable.

“The argument in favour of Station Park is gaining widespread support and, despite the fact that planning concerns can be overcome, the officers are unwilling to entertain the possibility of developing a school on a site that ticks all the boxes educationally and environmentally.

“Many parents have indicated that they are willing to wait an additional year, if it means getting a new school on the right site.

”Hopefully, councillors will see sense and ask officers to go back and carry out a full, open and transparent feasibility study on the alternative options for a new-build school.”