East Lothian Council has outlined the next steps for the development of a new primary school in East Linton as it published the outcome of its recent consultation.

Following a decision taken at a meeting of East Lothian Council on 11 December, officials were asked to progress with proposals for a replacement school at East Linton. The current building is over 140 years old, requires significant upgrades and cannot accommodate the forecast increase in the pupil roll which will see the school’s capacity breach. The council has set aside £11m in its capital programme to develop a new school.

A four week consultation was held in February 2022 to give the local community an opportunity to review early stage layouts for a new school and share their views. Officers attended meetings of Dunpender Community Council and East Linton Parent Council and held a Saturday morning drop-in session at the Mart. A specially-created website contained information and a link for people to share their opinions which was widely advertised online and throughout the village. In total 83 responses were received from individuals and groups and the school’s children. The analysis was gathered together with the proposed next steps in a report which was published to the Members’ Library and is available to view publically online.

The feedback indicated broad support for a new school in the heart of the village with layout A gathering most support of the three layouts. Those in favour of the school were keen to minimise the impacts on the green space and sustainability was an important consideration both in terms of the building’s design, the learning opportunities it offers and longevity. The Memorial Park green space was much valued by all who responded and issues around trees, parking and access to the new school were raised. Many respondents outlined a number of ways a new school could benefit the community including access to the building and grounds outwith school hours.

For those who were opposed to the school’s replacement, the key reason was the location with respondents preferring that development to take place on an alternative site. As stated in the original documentation, the land that is proposed for the school is the only land owned by the council in the village and is held by education for future school expansion.

The Members’ Library report outlines the following next stages:

  • Layout A will be progressed as the option which gathered the most support. This has been subject to further refinement based on consultation responses which seek to reduce the footprint of the replacement school to within land identified for education purposes and to minimise impact on Memorial Park.
  • Council will seek to submit a bid for Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) funding towards the replacement school in Autumn 2022
  • Financial resource will be set aside in the council’s capital plan for master planning of the landscape and green spaces of Memorial Park at the same time as more detailed design and technical work on the school. This will be led by the council’s amenity teams and involve the community. This recognises the importance of the green spaces and community facilities and the need to ensure a cohesive design to the final park environment that supports nature, formal and informal community use
  • Further detailed technical and design work will be required to meet the community’s aspirations regarding the preservation of trees, management of parking and reproviding the existing facilities which the council is committed to
  • The council is committed to further consultation work on its more detailed proposals as the project progresses.

Cabinet member for Education, Children’s and Family Services Councillor Fiona Dugdale said: “We want all children and young people to have access to high quality, modern learning spaces that support their learning and that also benefit the communities they are based in. Condition surveys show that East Linton’s primary school building requires significant upgrade and expansion which is not possible on the current site footprint. Investing in a new school on land which is already held by Education will allow us to develop a new building which will meet the needs of learners now and in the future.

“We recognise the value that the community places on its green space and have refined our early proposals to reduce the footprint of the new school site while still meeting our statutory requirements. Further work on master planning the park will be taken forward at the same time as technical and feasibility works for the school.

“I am grateful to everyone who shared their views through the consultation process and provided such detailed and considered answers. This has given us a wealth of opinions and perspectives that officers will closely analyse during the next steps of this project. We remain committed to consulting with the community during this process.”

Published: Thursday, 2nd June 2022