Robertson signs £5.7m contract to convert Fort William school into offices

robertson groupA £5.7 million contract has been agreed with Robertson Northern to convert a listed former Fort William school building into state-of-the-art offices.

Highland Council plans to bring together its professional and administrative staff from across the wider Locahber area in Scotland’s West Highlands to the former Achintore Secondary School, with the consolidation set to save the authority £400,000 per year.

Work to convert the Grade B Listed Building will start at the end of April 2016 and is due to complete in summer 2017.

Frank Reid, regional managing director for Robertson Northern, part of the Robertson Group, said: “This project will be a significant development for the town of Fort William and wider Lochaber and bring back to life a much loved building close to many people’s hearts.

“Over the course of the development, we are aiming to create a number of local jobs and take on apprentices, ensuring that the redeveloped Achintore Secondary School retains its local heart and continues to serve the community.”

Built in 1876 and owned by Highland Council, the building has lain in abeyance since 1960, when it was replaced by Lochaber High School. The renovation of the Victorian building will see space within the building transformed into office space for the local authority, with additional room for other public sector partners in a move to reduce operational costs.

Lochaber area leader, Councillor MacLennan, said: “I am delighted that the contract has been awarded and we can look forward to bringing life back to a gateway building on the A82.

“Not only will the new offices allow us to deliver our services more cost-effectively and efficiently, but this project creates jobs and supports the local economy at a time when other sectors are struggling.

“Providing a modern, flexible, accessible working environment will benefit staff and customers and also allows us to free up more buildings in the town, creating more future development opportunities. I look forward to work starting on site at the end of next month.”

This latest project takes the total spend invested in Fort William over the last five years to over £40m.

In addition to these investments, the council has also invested a further £2m in the purchase of the Blar Mor site to make provision for a new hospital and potentially a new science academy for the West Highland college and directed and enabled finance of £7.35m to be secured for housing association projects in the town over the past five years.

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