Community builds its own school

Strontian

Proves how far parent-power can go 

27th September 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A community-built school is set to open in the next few weeks after a successful community shares offer.

About 30 pupils attend Strontian Primary School in the Ardnamurchan Peninsula but locals complained the building, built in the 1970s, wasn’t fit for purpose.

When the Highland Council proposed making improvements to the school, locals decided it would be best to build their own.

Now the overall cost of more than £900,000 for the new primary school has been met through a community shares issue and grants.

Strontian, in the west Highlands, has a population of just 400.

Jamie McIntyre, a parent and community activist, said: "Highland Council did a statutory consultation on three possible options.

"Unfortunately, their preferred option was not supported by the parents, so we had a wee bit of a stalemate."

The opportunity was made possible due to the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust making land available.

McIntyre continued: "Quite casually, we said 'how much to build a new school here?'

"To their credit they went off and costed the plan and put it to the council and proposed the model we have here, which is that we finance, design and build the school and we lease it to the council for use as long they need it for a school."

The new primary has been designed in such a way it can be converted in affordable housing with interconnecting rooms which can be removed to create up to four homes.

Local Highland councillor Andrew Baxter said: "I think other communities in the Highlands and across the whole of Scotland could be looking at this and saying: 'Yes, we could do this too'."