D-day looms for old Mearns Academy site

The Shaping Laurencekirk event on Sunday, February 28 gave locals the chance to tour the old Mearns Academy site followed by a number of workshops to discuss issues such as the re-use of  buildings on the old Academy site. 

Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES
The Shaping Laurencekirk event on Sunday, February 28 gave locals the chance to tour the old Mearns Academy site followed by a number of workshops to discuss issues such as the re-use of buildings on the old Academy site. Copyright Andy Thompson Photography / ATIMAGES

A decision on the old Mearns Academy site and fields could be made next week by Aberdeenshire Council.

It has lain empty for over a year since the new £28million school was opened and has been the topic of much debate.

The Policy and Resources Committee is due to meet next Thursday, April 21, with the site on the agenda.

It was back in November that councillors on the Policy & Resources Committee delayed a decision to market for sale the former Mearns Academy buildings, including the leisure centre and playing fields, until April 2016, providing time for the Laurencekirk Development Trust (LDT) to develop a business case and undertake full consultation with the community. LDT has seen held a couple of community planning exercises, called a charrette, with Planning Assist Scotland (PAS).

Mike Robson, from Laurencekirk Development Trust, said that the group found the PAS events “very useful” and produced a wide rande of responses. The group also engaged with local school pupils to get their views. He said: “With government agreement to fund a graded junction at the southern junction with the A90 and A937, a swimming facility received most attention.

“The current developments which focus on large housing developments are also creating concerns about the lack of job opportunities and a reduction in community accommodation to host the wide range of community organisations.

“The plans produced for the development of the former academy site and a draft master-plan for the adjacent development land provide us with a new range of options for future developments.”

David Wood of PAS who managed the Shaping Laurencekirk community participation project said: “We have been delighted to be involved in this community-led project and have enjoyed working with local people who have demonstrated their passion for Laurencekirk and desire to secure a sustainable future for the town.

“We have now collated all the feedback received to identify how people would like the town to change in the future.”