£500m Perthshire infrastructure plan revealed
A half-billion-pound infrastructure plan to build new schools across Perthshire is to be discussed by councillors this week.
The Courier has reported that the seven-year project, which also includes major roads upgrades and an £18 million new leisure facility at Blairgowrie, is the biggest investment ever undertaken by Perth and Kinross Council.
The scheme involves a £128m upgrade of school estates including two new schools in the north of the city, as well as at the recently-revived Oudenarde estate near Bridge of Earn.
The schools plan is a £76m extension of the estates review and pledges replacement primaries at Pitlochry, Tulloch, Kinross and Alyth. Overall, 15 primaries and secondaries across the region will benefit from the planned investment.
Councillors will be asked to support the £500m campaign on Wednesday when they discuss the latest capital budget.
Council leader Ian Miller said that years of savings and economising had put the local authority in a privileged position.
The news follows the council’s announcement of its bid to bring the Stone of Destiny back to Perthshire and house it at a new multi-million-pound arts centre at Perth City Hall.
“This is the biggest investment which has ever happened in this council,” Councillor Miller said.
“I believe this will create the conditions for a positive and prosperous future for all of the people of Perth and Kinross.
“This may sound like a bold claim but it is one which is supported by my
proposals for the most ambitious programme of investment made in recent years.
“What I am proposing is a total investment package of over £500m in the next seven years.”
Around £250m worth of investment has already been approved. Mr Miller is proposing an extra £300m over the next seven years.
“I am proposing investment in our children, investment in our communities and investment in the future prosperity and economic growth of our area,” he said.
“Over the past seven years, we have expanded the school estate, built new schools and refurbished many more.
“Recent examples include Oakbank and Crieff primary schools, with the first brick due to be laid at the new Alyth Primary (this) week.
“These are fantastic facilities enjoyed by hundreds of children and their parents. But we will do more to make sure even more pupils and their families can benefit.”
He said the proposal will see major upgrades at 15 schools, benefiting 4,183 pupils each year.
The move does not include the new secondary school at Bertha Park, which is being funded through the Scottish Futures Trust.
Another major initiative will be an £18m leisure and recreation centre at Blairgowrie. The complex will replace the ageing pool next to the high school.
Mr Miller added: “I think the only reason we are able to do this is because of the good money management we’ve had at the council in recent years.
“In the period since I’ve been leader, we’ve kept very strict spending and have transformed a number of our services to save money.
“We’ve been able to save millions over recent years and this allows us to invest in capital projects which we really weren’t able to do previously.”