NAIRN Community Councils have expressed concern that the new academy planned for the town will not be large enough to meet future demand.
However, they also conceded that they were faced with a fait accompli, with no chance of revising the current plans for the new secondary school.
The new academy is expected to accommodate a maximum of 760 students, from a current enrollment of 668 which is expected to increase to 724 by 2028.
Highland Council has given assurances that ‘futureproofing’ the school’s capacity is built into the plans, but Nairn West and Suburban and Nairn River Community Councils both remain skeptical given the amount of building potential homes planned for the city.
They had wanted a review of the plan and accused the Highland Council of failing to consult.
The first public meeting of the Nairn West and Suburban Community Council since the start of the Covid pandemic brought together Nairn Provost Laurie Fraser and several members of the public.
Acting Community Council Chairman Alastair Noble had attended a meeting of the Nairn Academy Stakeholder Group and told the meeting: ‘It appears they (Highland Council) have appointed Balfour Beatty as contractors and we told us at a source government meeting it’s this building or nothing.
“It’s very disappointing.
“We believe they are looking at a three-storey building and we remain convinced that other sites, including Sandown, should have been considered.”
He told the Courier: “They also seem to be planning to move the library to the school and it just isn’t working.
“It was proven in Wick, where they got a new school, that the number of library users plummeted by 50% when the library was moved from the town center to the new school site .
“As well as being inaccessible to many, this will cause a significant drop in traffic to the city centre.
“And what about the future of the existing library? If it works, sixty parking spaces will also be lost, as the library building is leased to the council and the adjoining parking spaces come with it.
Community council member Alan Hampson, who has spent his life in the construction industry, said Sandown, on the outskirts of Nairn, was the obvious site for the school.
‘The council appear desperate to secure accommodation in Sandown,’ he said.
“But it makes more sense to demolish the academy, build accommodation on that site and a new school in Sandown.”