Angus Council has reaffirmed its commitment to a new Learning Campus for Monifieth, replacing the existing high school.
Approval was given at today’s Policy & Resources Committee while elected members acknowledged that the project costs will increase by £6m to £56m.
That additional sum will be found from reduced spending on other capital projects as detailed in appendix 3 of the report (report 152/22).
Councillors heard how an options appraisal had been undertaken, with only two options sufficiently meeting set criteria. These are to continue with the new build and find additional capital investment from other sources or abandon the previously agreed project altogether and instead pursue a phased programme of refurbishment works to the existing school.
The new campus project has already gained approval for Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP) funding, which is provided by the Scottish Government and administrated via the Scottish Futures Trust. However, this funding is granted over a 25-year period to meet facilities management and life-cycle maintenance costs based on 50 percent of a notional capital cost. It does not meet capital costs. In addition, this funding is released upon evidence of achievement of agreed outcomes in relation to specific targets for:
- Enabling the transition to net zero emissions
- Driving inclusive economic growth
- Building resilient and sustainable places
Accordingly, an option to reduce the size and quality of the build to meet the current budget of £50m (and an associated reduction in specification) would fail to attract the LEIP funding. It would also fail to meet the councils’ Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP) (approved on 4 November 2021 and available via this link SECAP). SECAP demonstrates that the council is committed to sustainable development, environmental management and the transition to a low carbon economy.
The current design for the campus meets stringent energy efficiency targets, reducing carbon emissions in both construction and day-to-day running of the school, and meeting Passivhaus accreditation, which is the world's leading standard in energy efficient construction.
In addition, the current specification for the new campus includes a swimming pool, something that was a specific and majority request arising from community engagement. Further, in last year’s budget consultation, the Schools for the Future programme was equal third most important priority identified for the council to provide.
The planned build will contain increased accessibility, with features including six ‘changing places’ toilets throughout the school and sports centre that will allow more children and young people with disabilities to attend the school. It also enhances accessibility for all people using the swimming pool and fitness facilities when they open to the public.
Councillor Beth Whiteside, Leader of Angus Council and Convener of Policy and Resources Committee said, “This has not been an easy decision today. It is apparent to all that the campus is designed to a high specification and its delivery will come at the expense of other worthy capital projects. However, we made a commitment in our election promises that as a group, we would be ambitious for Angus. We would not be fulfilling those promises if we were to downgrade the project and, more important still, we wouldn’t be providing the best that we possibly can for our young people. They are our future.
“I am extremely mindful that as a Monifieth councillor, that there is a desperate need for this new school and I am very happy that we will be providing a building worthy of the reputation of its pupils, now and in the future. We have seen the success of our campuses in Brechin and Forfar in delivering excellent educational and community resources to our young people and residents of all ages. I am sure that a new campus for Monifieth will emulate the positive experiences enjoyed in those communities.”
This new campus, the next project in the council’s ambitious School Investment Strategy 2017-2047, future proofs educational provision in the Monifieth area, allowing for an expansion in the school roll to meet increased population from future house building in the area.
The project will now progress through the 12-week period to gain planning consent.
Notes for information -
At the Angus Council meeting on 17 December 2020 (Report 329/20), Elected Members approved the recommendation to identify the replacement of Monifieth High School as the Council’s priority project for inclusion in the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP). The report set out the rationale for the inclusion of the project, which included addressing capacity issues and addressing a series of building and maintenance concerns. 3.2 As agreed at Angus Council on 4 March 2021, an allocation of £50 million has been identified in the Capital Budget for the replacement of Monifieth High School (Reports 68/21 and 76/21 refer).
This funding allocation was reaffirmed through the Council’s most recent budget setting for financial year 2022/23 in March 2022. 3.3 Angus Council received confirmation on 26 January 2021 that the replacement Monifieth High School project is included within Phase 2 of the LEIP and is eligible for funding support. Angus Council must fund the upfront capital investment for the project. Scottish Government will provide revenue funding to support maintenance costs over a 25-year period.