Subsidence at new £12m school sparks investigation

A newly-opened primary school is under investigation by the Scottish Government after a whistleblower '¨claimed its playground is already showing signs of subsidence which could spread and force it to close in a few years.

Problems have surfaced at Brimmond Primary School
Problems have surfaced at Brimmond Primary School

Brimmond Primary School in Bucksburn, Aberdeen, cost £12m to build was officially opened last November.

It has approximately 270 pupils and 70 nursery children and facilities include terraces which can be used as outdoor classrooms, a cycle track and a 3G Astro turf sports pitch.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

However, a senior manager with more than 30 years’ experience in construction projects, says he was sacked after raising concerns an inappropriate foundation was used.

He says there is a 15-metre square area of subsidence in the playground, 6 metres from the school building, and that the problem is highly likely to worsen over the next couple of winters leading to cracks in the school walls.

He says the structural design problem is more serious than the Edinburgh schools PFI project closures centred round more easily remedied construction defects.

Building began in April 2014 and was carried out by Ogilvie Construction on a design by Buro Happold and Edinburgh-based JM Architects.

The problem has been under investigation by the Scottish Government’s schools infrastructure unit at Victoria Quay since the start of June.

The senior manager, who does not want to be named, said: “The project was commercially-driven from the outset. My concerns are that it is not a stable design and vulnerable to subsidence. It is supposed to have a design life of 50 years, but I doubt it will last.”

A spokesman for Ogilvie Construction said: “The building and foundations have been designed and constructed to a very high standard and have been certified as fully compliant with all current building regulations and standards. There is no evidence of any subsidence at Brimmond Primary School.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said following concerns raised about the Edinburgh schools, structural engineers visited the school in April and found no evidence of subsidence.

A spokeswoman for Buro Happold said: “Buro Happold Limited carried out the foundation design for Brimmond school based on the factual evidence in the ground investigation report carried out in 2013. The design was carried out in compliance with the contract requirements and Scottish building and technical standards. The design has been certified under the SER Ltd scheme in accordance with Building (Scotland) regulations.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are currently looking into his allegations.”