Transformation of former Forfar school faces further delays

© DC Thomson
The latest stage of work on the former Chapelpark Primary School.

Progress on the transformation of the former Forfar Academy building has been further delayed.

The £5.6 million project , which is now a year behind schedule, involves the conversion of the main B-listed building, nursery annexe and playground of the imposing building in Academy Street into 29 affordable council homes for social rent.

They comprise 18 one-bedroom flats, six two-bedroom flats, one three-bedroomed flat and four five-bedroomed townhouses at an average cost of £193,000.

The local authority is financing the project with a £1.6m grant subsidy provided by the Scottish Government.

The site was later home to Chapelpark Primary School which closed its doors for the last time as part of the Forfar primary schools project, with the school’s catchment area split between the new Strathmore Primary School and Whitehills Primary School.

Chapelpark was given a £200,000 price tag, but the financial crisis and a downturn in the housebuilding industry meant it did not sell, leaving the local authority with a hefty annual energy and maintenance bill to avoid it suffering the worst effects of lying empty.

Despite attempts to sell the 200-year-old building and suggestions it could become a cultural hub for the burgh, the local authority eventually revealed its plans for conversion and new-build development.

A 3-D image of how the finished development will look.

The main building is being converted into 12 one-bed and four two bed flats, with a central access created for the first time in the façade of the B-listed school.

Conversion of the annexe building on the corner of the site adjacent to Couttie’s Wynd sees the creation of six one-bed, two two-bed and one three-bed wheelchair accessible flat.

The project will be completed with four 4/5-bed terraced townhouses in a scheme with 35 car parking spaces and landscaping in the playground of the former school.

A 3-D plan of the town houses.

The original scheduled completion date was March 2017 which was then moved to summer 2017.

In September there was a major event in the Reid Hall with all the agencies when tenants who will soon call the former school home were given the chance to see the project’s progress towards completion.

The authority’s housing team gave the soon-to-move-in tenants an opportunity to see plans and drawings, as well as samples of bathroom and kitchen fixtures and fittings which will grace their new homes.

Commenting on the latest delay a council spokesperson said:  “The transformation of the B-listed school building into 29 high quality affordable homes for social rent, is taking longer than expected due to a combination of factors.

“Additional engineering alterations were required to the existing buildings when the full extent of structural integrity issues emerged once work had started; and external works have been delayed due to poor weather.

“Whilst this is disappointing, it is not unusual for developments which transform iconic buildings into a new use, to be more complex than originally foreseen.

“We believe this significant housing development will breathe new life into this landmark building, and this part of Forfar.”