The long-awaited plans for a new school and community hub in Loanhead became a reality last week when planning permission was granted.
The £15.4 million community facility at Mayburn Avenue/George Avenue will include a new primary school, a new health centre, library, nursery school and early years and after school provision.
With an opening date of summer 2017, it will be situated directly across the road from the existing primary school, health centre and library. The site includes the existing leisure centre and part of King George’s Field.
The new primary school element is a replacement and enlargement of the existing Paradykes Primary School. Headteacher Tim Wallace said: “I’m delighted. I think there are a lot of opportunities to come from all working under the same roof.
“We are really keen to have the early learning and childcare as it’s for birth to three years old as well as nursery age. That allows us to get in and support families a lot earlier, which is fantastic. It just makes it a lot easier for us to work together and to focus on the needs of the children and their families.
“And, we are looking forward to having a larger space, 15 classes instead of the current 11 classes. It will just be nice to have more space.
“At the moment our games hall is still our lunch hall. So it will be lovely to have separate halls, so we don’t have children being interrupted.”
Mr Wallace has high hopes for the future of the school, which pupils and staff had a hand in designing.
He said: “I think a school is more than a building. It’s the people within it.
“But something new always gives people a lift. From the children’s point of view it will further their ambitions.
“We are really positive about it. Very enthusiastic.
“The children have worked with the architect to design the school playground. We are due to see those designs in the next few weeks.
“Staff are excited in a sense that we have been involved in the design of the building. The layout design of teaching areas. We have worked together which has been great for us to be involved in. I guess there is nothing we can say if we are not happy!”
Loanhead Community Council chairman Pat Kenny said: “We are looking forward to the new school. It will be good for the local community. There is nothing better for the kids than being taught in new surroundings. And it will bring employment which is good for the local economy.”
The main entrance to the new school will be at the north eastern corner of the building, under a high level canopy feature. The entrance to the nursery will be to the west. The library will form a large single storey link between the school and nursery and the leisure centre facilities. The health centre is to the west of the building and is also single storey. A spokesman for Midlothian Council said: This is a fantastic example of a community-led project with the community having been a part of the decision-making from the start of the development process.
“When deciding to take the route of a combined community facility, the community understood that in order to part fund the development such a decision would result in the existing land occupied by the school, library and health centre being sold for residential use.
“The project will be going to tender in the next few months with a start on site expected in early spring.”
Planning permission was also granted last week to build 86 homes and a children’s play area at the current Paradykes Primary School site.