Past Times: Where should school extension be sited?

From The Shetland Times, Friday 27th November, 1959

Where should the extension to Lerwick Central School be sited? That’s a problem exercising the minds of architects and local authorities at the moment.

At a recent meeting of the Property sub-Committee of the Education Committee, the county architect forwarded a reply he had received from Mr R.E. Moira, the town planner, in which reference was made to a development plan of the burgh regarding the Central School.

The plan stated: “The Central School will remain in its present location, and the island site bounded by Union Street, King Harald Street, Scalloway Road and Burgh Road will be acquired for future school use, to provide a site of just under four acres (including the site across King Harald Street).

“The acquisition of the whole site will be generally undertaken property by property, as and when each becomes available, but certain properties on the west side, such as Irvine’s and Brevik Cottages, will be acquired compulsorily or by agreement at an early stage, in order that any new classrooms could extend in that direction and face south.

“Over the ensuing period of years certain of the other properties will be acquired, such as Ordgarff, Nos. 1 and 3 Burgh Road, and Bayview.
Ultimately the remaining properties, Seaview and Johnston Cottage in Scalloway Road, will be acquired, making a compact working site, together with the infant school ground, by which time it might be necessary to rebuild existing buildings to new standards, and the whole island site will be available for this purpose.”

Mr Moira indicated he was strongly of the opinion that it was quite impracticable to split up the Central School into two buildings widely separated, because of the administrative difficulties involved. He advised that the proposals in the development plan for the Central School be closely followed, and that the difficulties of acquiring ground adjacent to the school be faced up to, so that in the future the school will remain a homogeneous unit in the centre of the population.

The director of education expressed the view it would be bad educational policy to divide the present Central School still further by building a new secondary department on an independent site (South Lochside has been suggested), as this would mean in effect, that five schools were being established in Lerwick for approximately 1,200 pupils.

The county architect agreed that the area referred to in the development plan would have been the correct development if the site could have been readily acquired property by property but he was rather hesitant about the matter if the extension to the school became dependent upon compulsory acquisition of the site.

The correspondence was referred to the working party appointed to deal with the site question.

At a meeting he had with the Town Council, Mr Moira emphasised that his original proposal was still the best possible planning.

It was pointed out, however, that the policy of acquiring properties surrounding the existing school was a long-term project, and no action had yet been taken to implement the plan in this respect. The Education Committee were faced with an immediate need for further accommodation, and an early solution must be found.

The Council agreed that the Education Committee should be asked to call Mr Moira to the meeting at which the question of siting the school was to be considered.


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