Highland Council issues update on school Capital Investment Programme

Highland Council issues update on school Capital Investment Programme

The Highland Council has issued an update to its education stakeholders regarding the school estate capital investment programme.

The council agreed in December 2022 that a complete review of the current capital investment programme was necessary, due to significant inflationary cost increases being seen in projects across the approved capital programme and the increases in interest rates which impact on the cost of financing loan debt.

However the review could not be concluded until the outcomes of Scottish Government decisions in relation to the Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP) were known as the programme is inextricably linked to external funding decisions and opportunities, and an assessment against affordability, deliverability, and impact, is required before decisions on the final revised programme can be made by members.

Officers have regularly been seeking updates from the Scottish Government regarding the timing of the announcement and anticipate an announcement of the successful projects by the summer. The outcome of this announcement will have a significant impact on the capital review that is underway, and therefore the review process will not be concluded until later this year.

Back in October 2022, the council submitted a funding bid in respect of Phase 3 of LEIP for 5 new school buildings. This included: 

  • Replacement buildings for Beauly, Dunvegan and Park Primary Schools.
  • A new building on a new site in Dingwall for St.Clement’s School.
  • A new building for a new Primary School at Tornagrain.

Due to the delayed LEIP funding announcement, the council is working to a one-year capital programme for 2023/24 (approved at the council meeting held on 2 March 2023), to continue with design and planning work on all the major school projects included in the programme approved back in December 2021.

This course of action aims to ensure that the impact on the progress of these projects will be minimised as far as possible, while the review is ongoing. It is important to stress that no projects have been dropped from the current programme.

Education Committee chair, Councillor John Finlayson, said: “I appreciate the concerns and frustrations that have been expressed by some Stakeholders in recent weeks and I would like to assure them that the Council Administration and Officers continue to work on the review and are committed to concluding this process as soon as it is possible.”

Leader of the council, Raymond Bremner, added: “The Highland Council has a vast school estate with over 200 schools. Our vision is to provide the best possible school environments for our pupils, and we will continue to work with our partners to achieve the investment required.”

Stakeholders will be kept fully updated of any developments as soon as we hear about them, and project teams will continue to develop the designs and engage with school staff and other user groups as required. Essential meetings to discuss funding opportunities, land acquisition and masterplan considerations will also continue as necessary in locations, where additional facilities led by the community are being developed as an integral part of some projects.

Individual briefings containing specific detailed information on the status of each project will shortly be issued to all Stakeholder Groups.

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