Consultants appointed by The Highland Council to carry out an option appraisal exercise in relation to the future provision of pre-school and primary school education at Conon Bridge and Maryburgh have recommended that a new amalgamated school should be built on the site of the existing Conon Bridge Primary School.
Parents were advised of the recommendation at a meeting earlier this week and the Council’s Education Culture and Sport (ECS) Committee will consider the outcome of the appraisal at its next meeting on Wednesday (21 May).
Following a statutory consultation in August 2006, the Council agreed to replace the existing Conon Primary School and Maryburgh Primary School with a new amalgamated school on the existing Conon Primary School site.
Thereafter, the ECS Committee was advised that the replacement Aviemore Primary School and the new amalgamated school at Conon could not proceed simultaneously and that members would be asked to decide which project should progress first when the state of readiness of the respective projects was known.
In August, 2008, the ECS Committee was advised that the Aviemore project was sufficiently advanced to proceed. As a result, members agreed that Aviemore should proceed first and that in relation to the Maryburgh/Conon Bridge replacement it was agreed - following further discussion with community representatives - that a detailed option appraisal exercise be carried out to determine the course of action that would deliver best value for stake-holders.
In October 2008, Caledonian Economics Limited (CEL) was appointed to carry out the options appraisal exercise. Members agreed that this exercise should provide a template for any future option appraisal.
Two options for the future development of educational provision within the communities of Conon and Maryburgh were considered, namely:-
• A new amalgamated Conon/Maryburgh School on the site of the existing Conon Primary School site.
• The refurbishment of the existing Conon and Maryburgh Schools to Category A for Condition and Suitability within the Scottish School Estate classification.
The qualitative assessment examined such issues as learning and teaching, pupil entitlement/equality of opportunity, community facilities and activities, campus traffic management, community identity, temporary accommodation during construction and travel distance and time.
Under the terms of the quantitative assessment, the new amalgamated school was 17% less expensive over the estimated 60-year life of the new/refurbished buildings. At today’s prices the estimated cost of the new amalgamated school was £19.89 million while the corresponding figure for the redevelopment of the existing Conon and Maryburgh schools was £23.83 million a difference of £3.94 million. The quantitative assessment includes teaching costs, non teaching costs, loans charges, facilities management costs, utility costs, life cycle maintenance costs, temporary accommodation costs and safe routes to school costs over the estimated life of both options.
The approved level of funding within the ECS Capital programme for the new educational provision at Conon/Maryburgh is £5.942 million.