Councillors are expected to formally choose Kinmundy as the site of the long-awaited new Peterhead community campus.
A full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council on Thursday next week will be recommended that the edge-of-town location be favoured over the existing academy site.
According to officers, there is a “strong preference” for the new 1,400-capacity academy and community resource hub to be located at Kinmundy rather than the current location.
During a recent consultation, many felt it would create less disruption to pupils’ education.
But there are concerns about the significant distance children living in the town centre will have to endure to reach the new campus.
In a report to councillors, education and children’s services director Laurence Findlay states: “The preferred site of officers – which aligns with the outcomes from engagement events – is to develop the Community Campus at Kinmundy.
“Logistically this site enables a fit-for-purpose service to be delivered, which provide educational benefits and opportunities to meet the needs of young people and the wider community.”
Mr Findlay stresses that if Kinmundy is chosen, it will be important to determine the school provision in both the area and Peterhead as a whole.
In addition to the academy, a 600-capacity primary and/or a replacement for Anna Ritchie/Community Resource Hub could be included on the campus.
Subject to consultation and legislative requirements, the replacement primary school would merge the two existing primaries at Dales Park and Meethill.
Councillors will also be told: “Future development at the current academy site could enable opportunities to relocate Peterhead Central School in a brand new facility, albeit this would feature as a future phase of the programme.”
From a financial perspective, Mr Laurence says the council accepts that the entire project cannot be delivered within the available budget, but that there are opportunities to prioritise the scope into a phased approach, aligned to budget availability.
Mr Findlay explains: “To ensure a long-term ‘vision’ is developed, and the best solution is identified, it is important to consider all future requirements prior to commencing any specific aspect of the project.
“This will ensure that initial phases of the project do not compromise the development of further phases.”
To satisfy the demand to retain community facilities within the town centre while retaining a deliverable project, officers are assessing the potential of providing facilities on the current academy campus. The recent consultation found that there is a strong preference for some community facilities such as a theatre, exhibition area and swimming pool to be retained in the town centre.
Mr Findlay reports that sports facilities could be provided to complement those at Kinmundy as required for PE in addition to the opportunity to provide a theatre, exhibition space, and swimming pool facility either through a new build or refurbishment of existing facilities.
Further engagement is planned at the start of the academic year to refine the options with parents, pupils, staff, practitioners, including those within the communities of Dales Park, Meethill and Anna Ritchie Schools.
There will also be on-going engagement with all schools in the cluster network.