High school ‘car park’ design criticised

An artist's impression of the new Boroughmuir High building
An artist's impression of the new Boroughmuir High building
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A WAR of words has broken out over the design of the new Boroughmuir High School.

The Capital’s Green party said the new building is “uninspiring” and barely merits a C grade – but education bosses have hit back by giving the ­critics an A+ for “moaning and negativity”.

Leaders of Edinburgh’s Green group said plans drawn up by Allan Murray Architects failed to inspire young people, with one observer remarking the proposed school building looked more like a “multi-­storey car park with glass”.

Councillor Gavin Corbett, Green member for Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart, said the designs were good in part but should have been far more impressive given the building will be the home of Scotland’s top state secondary for decades to come.

He said: “The question at this stage is whether it is yet as good as it could be. The reaction of the young people I’ve spoken to suggests that they are not so far inspired by what they see.”

The criticisms come as consultation on the new designs continue ahead of Friday’s deadline, with education chiefs hoping to begin work in a year’s time and the school built in Fountainbridge by summer 2016.

It is estimated the building will cost between £30 million and £40m.

Cllr Corbett said concerns had been raised over the building’s “monolithic” appearance, adding that parents were worried about whether there would be enough outdoor green space for pupils.

He said a lack of parking space meant an active travel plan would have to be developed to avoid cars spilling over into surrounding streets, while the building’s reliance on mains gas and electricity meant its eco-­credentials were “commendable rather than exemplary”.

Awarding the designs a “report card of C”, he said: “There’s a year to go before the shovels start on the site so I hope the council can use that year well to deliver the school, building Scotland’s best high school merits.”

Cllr Corbett was backed by community leaders.

Mairianna Clyde, chair of Merchiston Community Council, said: “More could be done about how the building will interface with Dundee Street and Viewforth. All that is showing at present is a block-like featureless wall.”

But education chiefs attacked the Greens’ negativity.

Cllr Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “While I welcome legitimate questions which attempt to improve the design, I find it unfortunate – but not surprising – that the Green Party seems unable to welcome progress of any kind, not just on this issue but across the council. Once again, they would get an A+ for moaning and negativity.

“The parent consultation meeting was very well attended and extremely positive. Both the headteacher and the parent council have given the design their overwhelming backing.”