Planning permission has been granted for a new primary school at Blindwells, East Lothian. The decision was taken at East Lothian Council’s Planning Committee meeting today.

Schools provide a focal point in any community and we are keen that the new space benefits the wider area

The school was granted planning permission in principle in May 2018 as part of the development of the wider Blindwells settlement that would comprise residential, employment, education and commercial uses over a 4.252 hectare site. Due to the size of the site, development is being considered in phases. Since then, a number of more detailed planning applications have come forward for housing and roads infrastructure ahead of the school proposals being developed.

At the heart of the new community

The approved plans are for a two stream primary school with 14 classrooms providing education for 420 children and an early years facility for up to 100 2-5 year olds. The design statement highlights the primary school’s site at the heart of the new community and the key role it will play in forming a successful and vibrant neighbourhood. Images submitted with the application show a distinctive ‘sawtooth’ roof detail and a predominantly brick building with limited use of rain-screen timber effect cladding. Overall, the design has been developed to reflect the area’s industrial heritage and to unify the various styles and types of buildings across the wider site.

Playground areas to the south of the school have been designed to include hard and soft play areas, activity and nature play trails and areas for outdoor learning and growing. Sporting provision – a two grass sports pitches, a five lane running track and basketball court have been positioned on the southern end of the site beside Blindwell’s community pitches to provide opportunities for sharing facilities. The site boundaries will have extensive planting while the school’s position will provide a hub for safe and active travel connecting the community as part of a ‘green corridor’ within the wider masterplan.

Modern primary school

Cabinet member for Education, Families and Children’s Services Councillor Fiona Dugdale said: “Our vision is for a vibrant community at Blindwells with a modern primary school which is at the heart of this newly-created neighbourhood. Schools provide a focal point in any community and we are keen that the new space benefits the wider area while providing high quality learning for the generations of children who will attend.

“A design that takes account of Passivhaus principles will deliver an energy efficient building that inspires learners and supports our ambitions for a low carbon community at Blindwells. I am pleased that the planning application has been approved and we can now move forward with the delivery of one of our newest schools.”

East Lothian Council is working with its development partner, Hub South East on the development of the school.

Exciting learning estate projects

Roddy Clark, Hub South East’s Operations Director said: “The new Blindwells Primary School is just one of a number of exciting learning estate projects we’re proud to have been entrusted to deliver in partnership with East Lothian Council and we’re delighted to reach the key milestone of achieving Planning Permission.

“The designs for the new Blindwells Primary have been developed using some of the Passivhaus principles, so pupils and staff will not only benefit from a modern new learning space, the building itself will be energy efficient and will assist our client in meeting progressive Scottish Government environmental targets. We look forward to working with our preferred contractor Balfour Beatty to make these plans a reality.”

Key milestone

Claire Davie, Associate at JM Architects which developed the school’s designs added: “We are delighted that Blindwells Primary School has been granted Planning Permission, an exciting and key milestone for this project. We recognise the significance of this building in the context of the wider masterplan and we are looking forward to working with East Lothian Council, Hub South East Scotland, Balfour Beatty and the wider Design Team on the construction of this new primary school for the emerging Blindwells community.”

£20m was approved in the council’s five year capital plan 2022-2027 for the works; this is being carefully monitored due to the impacts that rising inflation is having on the construction industry. The school is due to be ready for occupation during academic year 2024/25.

Published: Tuesday, 6th December 2022