Essential repairs to be carried out at two Highland schools containing RAAC

Essential repairs to be carried out at two Highland schools containing RAAC

The Highland Council has written to parents and carers of pupils at two Inverness schools to inform them of emergency works to the buildings that have been reported as having reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) structures.

Charleston Academy in Inverness and Nairn Academy were recently named as containing RAAC components in the roof and wall construction.

It follows growing concerns across the UK about the use of RAAC. It is recognised that RAAC panels have material and construction deficiencies making them less robust than traditional concrete and is considered in industry terms ‘a latent defect’.

More than 250 NHS Scotland buildings have also been identified as containing the material.

In the letter to parents and carers, Highland Council said it has been carrying out regular surveys of the buildings since 2019 and that essential work will be prioritised for completion during the school holidays where possible and to allow both schools to open as planned for the start of the new session in August.

It added that further recommended work will be carried out to bring the buildings up to the revised standards and reduce risk in the future.

The letter states: “The Highland Council has two schools that are known to have buildings that contain RAAC components in their roof and wall construction; these are Charleston Academy and Nairn Academy. The Council has been carrying out regular surveys of these buildings since 2019 in line with relevant guidance and as part of an overall management strategy.

“Further guidance was issued by the Institution of Structural Engineers in April 2023 and as a result the council arranged for surveys and assessments to take place during the current summer holiday period. These were carried out by a firm of chartered engineers that have the required expertise and experience to undertake RAAC assessments.”

The surveys and assessments have resulted in the following course of action:

  • Phase 1 Works: The engineer has identified a relatively limited amount of essential works that require to be carried out prior to either some internal rooms being reoccupied, or some external areas being fully accessed. These works are being prioritised for completion during the remainder of the holiday period where possible, and to allow both schools to open as planned for the start of the new session in August.
  • Phase 2 Works: These are works that have been recommended by the engineer in order to bring the structures up to the revised standards and reduce risk in the future. The sequence and timing of these works is being finalised but it is anticipated that they will be carried out during the new school session and over the October holiday period by arrangement with the respective Head Teachers. A contractor has been engaged to carry out the Phase 1 and 2 works at both schools.
  • Phase 3 Works: Regular monitoring and inspection will be undertaken as part of the ongoing building maintenance and management strategy.

The letter added: “Highland Council has been proactive in managing this issue and reacted as soon as further guidance was issued earlier this year. Officers have liaised with Head Teachers both prior to and during the holiday period to keep them fully up to date and to agree the areas of the buildings to prioritise in order to mitigate risk and minimise disruption to pupils and staff during the new school session.”

Meanwhile, essential work to replace the RAAC roof planks over the games hall at Fauldhouse Partnership Centre in West Lothian has been finished on time and within budget.

The full replacement of the roof above the sports hall was required after inspections found water damage was affecting the roof.

Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “I’m delighted that the essential roof replacement work at Fauldhouse Partnership Centre has now been completed so quickly.

“By choosing a full replacement roof over cheaper short-term repairs, we have demonstrated our commitment to ensuring that Fauldhouse will have a hub for the delivery of essential services for the future.

“Council officers have contacted the groups who use the games hall, and I look forward to seeing activities taking place in the hall over the rest of the summer.”

Development partner Hub South East delivered the project in partnership with the council, with Hadden Construction appointed as the primary contractor.

Roddy Clark, Hub South East’s operations director, said: “This project demonstrates Hub South East’s strength as a true development partner, having assisted West Lothian Council with a rapid and effective response to its RAAC roof issue.

“The flexibility of the Hub process has meant that we were able to design and implement a solution from inception through to completion in less than 12 months, which is an incredible achievement.

“As the first contract for Hadden Construction since joining our supply chain, we’d like to congratulate everyone involved in delivering this complex project, which was handed over in record time and within budget, ensuring that our client has been successfully supported in its pro-active approach to addressing this industry wide issue.

“This couldn’t have been achieved without the ongoing support from our supply chain partners and West Lothian Council.”

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