Buchan councillors give support to Peterhead Academy campus
Buchan councillors have voiced their support for the replacement and relocation of Peterhead Academy.
The Buchan Area Committee considered a report regarding the new Peterhead Community Campus on Tuesday, September 15.
Aberdeenshire Council had proposed that education at the existing academy site be stopped in July 2025 following the opening of the new Peterhead Community Campus at Kinmundy Road in August 2025.
Plans to replace Peterhead Academy have been ongoing since February 2018 and the new Kinmundy site was approved by the local authority in June 2019.
A report issued to councillors prior to the meeting stated that the new campus would address “condition and suitability” issues at the existing building and would have capacity for 1,400 secondary pupils and 600 primary children.
The campus will feature new community and sport facilities and will enable pupils to receive all aspects of their education in the same location.
The new Peterhead Community Campus could replace Central School, Dales Park and Meethill, as well as Anna Ritchie School. A new nursery is also being considered alongside the campus development.
Commenting at the meeting councillor Stephen Calder said he agreed that the existing buildings "desperately need replacing" and added they are "not fit for purpose at normal times and certainly not at times of a dangerous pandemic" however he raised concerns about the negative impact on the town centre following the move.
Cllr Calder explained: "One of the mitigating measures that is mentioned of moving the academy to Kinmundy is to move the Central School out of the town centre to the present academy site. I'm sorry but moving the school out of the town centre doesn't mitigate the impact on the town centre, quite the opposite in fact, and leaves the town centre worse off.
"The proposals to move community and educational facilities to the outskirts of the town drive a coach and horses through the council's stated commitment to a Town Centre First Principle.
"Local residents, who have seen many regeneration programmes agreed by the council through the years to never get off the ground, have lost any faith in the council's political will to carry them out so these mitigating measures, if they are going to be regeneration of the actual town centre, we've had that promise for decades now.
"We've had umpteen reports never carried out and here we are four-and-a-half years into a five-year programme and it's never got off the ground so there is no faith left in the council for regeneration in the town centre and I don't blame the people for feeling that way."
He added: "Peterhead's becoming a more and more socially and economically divided town divided between the rich and the poor, the prosperous and the disadvantaged, and its increasingly becoming divided geographically with the town centre becoming devoid of community facilities."
Meanwhile Committee chair, councillor Norman Smith, supported the plan and said: "This is a huge good news story for Peterhead. Had there been a suitable site nearer the centre of Peterhead it would have been looked at. I understand that moving to a greenfield site was the best and maybe the only option.
"With the tightening of belts and everything now I think it's great to see that this is still on the table and is still going ahead."
Cllr Stephen Smith added: "We've known for years that the condition of the academy has been deteriorating, there's been a need to replace it, it's had to take its place in the queue behind other projects but it's now Peterhead's turn and this is a significant investment into the town. I'm pleased the current administration are taking this forward.
"We've got a date of 2025 for the school opening up, that gives us four-and-a-half to five years to deal with some of the issues that are rightly being flagged up but I don't accept some of the negativity around them.
"At the end of the day I do not want a decision on the educational future of the children of Peterhead to be taken on what is good or bad for businesses in the town, sure that's a consideration but the education of the children has to come first."
Cllr Alan Fakley added: "I don't accept a lot of the negativity that has been said here. I've attended many of the consultations that have occurred across my ward and at the academy, there have been many parents and children from all of our communities there and I believe the overwhelming response of all those people was they prefer a new academy to be built on a greenfield site out at Kinmundy because the building work will not effect the children who will be educated on a building site."
Following discussion the Committee gave their support to the plan and the final decision will be made by the Education and Children’s Services Committee.