The shape of things to come

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ELLON residents were given their first chance to see new plans for the town’s new academy at a consultation last Wednesday.

The event at the senior study base at the existing Ellon Academy, included conceptual displays and plans for the new school, which is scheduled to begin construction in February of 2013.

Around a 100 people turned out and were invited to make comments and recommendations to planners regarding the school, which has been the subject of heated debate regarding its exact location.

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said the event went well, with positive feedback from those in attendance.

“We were pleased with the turnout - more than a hundred people attended during the day, giving us valuable feedback to complement our ongoing online feedback exercise,” he said.

“We will now distil the information and consider whether there are any changes we can make to ensure the new academy meets the needs of both the school and the local community.”

“There was a meeting with the Aberdeenshire Design Review Panel on June 6 and some adjustments were made to the design to reflect its comments. The Property service will - together with Education, Learning and Leisure - collate and analyse the response from the Public Consultation meeting and again adjust the design where appropriate.

All such adjustments to mitigate community views on the design will be communicated to the Planning Service as part of the Major Applications planning process.

“The project is currently on-programme, with a planning application expected to be submitted mid-September 2011. The provisional start on site date is around February 2013 with completion around mid 2015, subject to contractual agreement.”

Community Council chairwoman Moira Muir told that Times that the plans were “stunning”.

“I wasn’t at the consultation, but I have seen the plans already. I had hoped for the best, and we are getting the best,” she said.

“I fully expect that this school will be the best in Scotland, and have no reservations saying that. I’ll take my hat off to the planners, and particularly to rector Tim McKay and the staff at Ellon Academy, whose input into the planning process has seen the best elements from schools around the country incorporated into the designs.

“I just hope that the community facilities planned for the site are as good as the designs for the academy.”

The project, announced in September 2009, is intended to replace the current ageing academy campus with a modern, state-of-the-art facility, after long standing calls for replacement and claims that the current campus - bisected by the B9005 - is no longer fit for purpose.

The Scottish Government has already committed £22,673,000 through the Scottish futures Trust, with a further £23,880,000 worth of funding earmarked by Aberdeenshire Council.

The project has been at the heart of huge debate within the community, with stakeholders divided over the siting of the building, which is tied in closely with the debate over proposed housing developments around Ellon. Councillors were themselves divided over where the academy would go, eventually concluding that Cromleybank was effectively the best site.

Residents are invited to air their views on the council’s online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/ellonacademy