Builders to stump up for more places in classrooms

Buckstone Primary is one of the most popular in the Capital. PICTURE: TOBY WILLIAMS
Buckstone Primary is one of the most popular in the Capital. PICTURE: TOBY WILLIAMS
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TWO firms building hundreds of homes next to one of the Capital’s most cramped schools have confirmed they will inject new funds to boost capacity in its classrooms.

Construction giants Cala and David Wilson homes said they would pay the money to council bosses as part of planning permission to build 275 houses close to Buckstone Primary in the south of the city.

Cala bosses revealed 
payments connected to the Fairmilehead development would be phased, with an instalment set to be transferred after the first homes – due for completion in December this year – are occupied. Confirmation of the funds came after the Evening News yesterday revealed that a number of parents would take the council to court after younger siblings of existing pupils were denied P1 places at Buckstone in what they called a “farcical” placement appeals hearing in May.

One member of the group, Dr Michael Edwards, whose son was denied a P1 place at Buckstone even though his older sister is a pupil, said investing funds only after keys for the first properties are collected would be too little, too late for families hoping to send children to one of the Capital’s most sought-after schools.

He said: “It’s a disgrace to the city. The problem going forward will be the shock for Cala customers when they find they can’t send their children to the local school.”

Dr Edwards, 41, a lecturer and researcher in geophysics at Edinburgh University, said he had obtained information showing current capacity at the school is “locked” all the way up to P4.

And he accused the council and developers of “lack of leadership” over their management of accommodation issues at Buckstone – one of a number of city schools struggling amid rising rolls brought on by a spike in population.

“Cala may not have realised quite how severe the problem is further up the ranks at the school,” he said.

“The issue here is what the impact on customers will be of living next to a school with no spare teaching capacity, where they thought this was already financed by Cala. I have looked at purchasing one of the homes – but not any more because Cala are not doing anything for their customers on the issue of schooling.

“The capacity at surrounding schools, as far as I’m aware, is also extremely tight. Parents could be faced with having to drive their children several catchments away to schools.”

The 275-home development by Cala and David Wilson Homes is among the largest and most prestigious in the Capital, featuring four and five-bedroom homes available from £500,000.

A Cala spokeswoman said: “As part of the planning consent for Cala’s development at Fairmilehead, there is an agreement that Cala and David Wilson will make financial contributions to the council to increase capacity at Buckstone Primary School.”

A council spokesman said: “Money from the developers will be used to alleviate accommodation pressures at Buckstone Primary School.”