Council officials remain “confident” pupils could settle into the new Madras College in St Andrews in as little as three years’ time.
More details were revealed about the long-awaited £50 million replacement as Fife’s assets, property and facilities committee was given an update on what’s been happening behind the scenes as plans to build the new school on the University of St Andrews-owned site at Langlands progress.
As revealed by The Courier this week, talks between Fife Council and the university have been going well and the terms for the £2.5 million purchase of the 18-acre Langlands site are now close to being agreed.
That deal will also see the council hand over the school’s South Street building to the university on the same date, and lease it until the new Madras replacement is finished.
Councillors have formally authorised service heads to agree the terms of the lease of the South Street campus to the council for a nominal rent, and also grant a licence to occupy land at Station Park to allow construction of a new road.
After years of delay, Alan Paul, corporate asset manager, told the committee he was “naturally optimistic” the Langlands proposal would indeed be seen through to completion, adding the working target date of the 2020/21 school session still appeared “achievable”.
That will be dependent on decisions made by the council’s education and children’s services committee.
“I hope that we will achieve a new excellent facility,” Mr Paul said.
“I’m entirely confident that all the ingredients are in place to allow us to do that and, in the fullness of time, I’m sure it’s going to be a facility the community will be proud of.”
Mr Paul also confirmed, after the collapse of the previous Pipeland plan, an entirely new design is being drawn up.
The council intends to erect a three-storey building with a university campus style for up to 1,450 pupils, boasting two flood-lit 3G all-weather sports pitches.
“The brief essentially remains the same but the design needs to reflect the context – it’s a building that will look very different from what was proposed at Pipeland,” Mr Paul said.
The school – which is also expected to come in on or under the £50 million budget – will also be for community use.
“Given the history of this piece of work, we’ve essentially nailed down the principle of the land deal but there’s a whole host of other decisions that we need to consider – such as how we manage facilities to ensure they are not competing,” he continued.
Mr Paul went on to say that no decisions have yet been taken on the future use of the existing Kilrymont campus of Madras once the new school is built.
“The focus is very much on delivering the new school, and then we will deal with consequences of that thereafter,” he concluded.
A more detailed planning application is expected to be submitted in the autumn.
St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson described the news as a “really positive” update.
“It’s reassuring that, as part of the deal, the South Street campus will be acquired by the university, particularly given its excellent track record in maintaining and sympathetically refurbishing historic buildings in and around St Andrews town centre,” he said.
“With further well-attended public consultations events having been held this week, the project is clearly moving in the right direction.”