Earlier this year, the council asked engineering specialists to undertake inspections, focused on establishing the extent and condition of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) within buildings.
RAAC is a lightweight form of precast concrete, frequently used in public sector buildings in the UK from the mid-1960s to at least the mid-1980s. It is mainly found in roofs, although occasionally in floors and walls.
In some situations, identification of concerns within some elements of RAAC has required building works to be carried out or remedial measures to be put in place.
Inspection works confirmed the presence of RAAC in the construction of some, but not all, parts of Preston Lodge High School, Prestonpans.
As a result of faults identified in a limited number of areas in which the RAAC is present, it was decided last term that some parts of the school building would be closed as a precautionary measure, with temporary arrangements in place to maintain learning and teaching such as using alternative accommodation within the school’s catchment area for some lessons.
Following a detailed option appraisal by Innovate East Lothian Ltd and FES FM Ltd (contract partners for six of the county’s secondary schools), it was agreed that a new timber structure would put in place in affected parts of the building, to support the existing roof. This option will result in the RAAC becoming a non-structural component of the roof fabric with the roof fully supported by the new wooden structure.
This will provide a long term technical solution with all affected learning spaces coming back into use with phased re-commissioning, which is underway. It also provides a technical solution enabling the school to remain open, minimising disruption to learning and teaching. Read the latest update.
Survey work established that RAAC is present in the dining hall at Ross High School, Tranent. While the RAAC is in a better condition than buildings elsewhere, we were advised that work was required to improve the bearing of the RAAC panels. Therefore, as a temporary and precautionary measure, the dining hall was taken out of immediate use, with temporary arrangements put in place for school lunches. The dining hall will re-open as soon as possible.
In order to ensure that a long-term technical solution is in place, it is proposed that a new timber structure will also be installed in affected parts of the dining area to support the existing roof. This will result in the RAAC becoming a non-structural component of the roof fabric with the roof fully supported by the new wooden structure. Work on this will be carried out during the summer holidays in 2024.
Survey work has confirmed that RAAC is not present in any other East Lothian Council school buildings.
Survey work confirmed that areas of the roof at the Brunton Hall in Musselburgh were constructed from RAAC. As a result, parts of the building (in particular the performance venues and top floor office spaces) are currently closed. A report will be completed to provide a range of options for consideration in relation to the Brunton.
A small part of North Berwick Sports Centre – containing two squash rooms, trampoline room and a changing facility – is also affected and currently closed as a result. Repairs are being arranged. The rest of the centre (including the main part of the building) remains operational and open to the public.
The gym hall at St Joseph’s School, which has been closed since 1997, has also being identified as containing RAAC. However, this building is mothballed and so not in use. Further survey work is being progressed.