Redevelopment of the Kilrymont Road site for a new secondary school in St Andrews is not the answer and should be rejected, according to a former rector of Madras College.
On the eve of yesterday’s meeting of Fife Council, aimed at focusing on the way forward following the collapse of the proposed deal with St Andrews University to build a new £40 million school on university land, Lindsay Matheson made it clear that officials must listen to the views of parents and other key groups before taking a final decision.
In an exclusive interview with the Citizen, he said,”My instinct is that any campaign against the preferred quick fix of Kilrymont has to be mounted by closely interested parties such as parents and the community council.
“My main concerns remain the small size and unsuitable location of the Kilrymont site. There is also the continued need to use the separate facility of Station Park at two miles distance, the additional travel time and costs for buses traversing the whole town twice daily, the additional environmental impact of this, and the distance pupils linking with university departments would have to travel.
“Once we know how plans match agreed criteria a considered case for various other single-site solutions should be possible.”
The local authority has pledged to revisit all the potential sites for a new school which include Station Park itself - an option being increasingly favoured by many - the present South Street and Kilrymont Road schools, Craigtoun Road, Pipeland, Strathkinness High Road, and university owned land at North Haugh and Langlands.
Also, as first revealed by the Citizen, Craigtoun Park - which is owned by the council - has now also been suggested.
Mr Matheson, who was involved at the outset of the historic proposals with the university a decade ago - he retired in 2007 - also questioned the continued use of Station Park for school sports activities if the council plumps for the Kilrymont option.
He concluded: ”Is this not, to an extent, still therefore a split site?”
Councillor Douglas Chapman, chair of the Education and Children’s Services Committee, said: ”Fife Council is still absolutely committed to a single-site Madras.
‘‘While we are anxious to get the project under way, we recognise the need and value in engaging with the local community.“
Subject to the outcome of yesterday’s council meeting in Glenrothes, a series of meetings will be held to explain the original site assessment exercise and to examine in more detail the methodology utilised and the weightings applied to each of the relevant factors.
The first meeting with members of the Local Development Group has been scheduled for September 27 in St Andrews.
It will be followed by a wider consultation in Blyth Hall, Newport, on October 4, and a similar event at Kilrymont on October 5. Thereafter, all of the original sites and Craigtoun Park will be re-scored based on the agreed weightings.
Councillor Chapman added that, prior to any report going to the relevant committee on November 10, it is planned to feed back all the information on the community engagement events and the resultant scored site assessment will be presented at another parents’ meeting on October 24 at Kilrymont.