The new Anderson High School could be built closer to the Clickimin Centre on flatter land rather than being dug into the hillside, design experts have advised Shetland Islands Council.
During a workshop last month with government-funded advisers Architecture and Design Scotland the council was told it should be open to looking at other sites within the Clickimin/Staney Hill area, which could make the building cheaper and more effective.
During discussion at Thursday’s meeting of the services committee, councillor Frank Robertson said it was also emphasised that the new school would be a major civic building and it was important to look at multiple uses for it, not just teaching.
Councillor Jonathan Wills, leader of last year’s revolt against building at the Knab, said members had been told in the past they could not build on the flat land at Clickimin because of a threat from methane gas seeping up from the former town dump, which lies beneath some of the Clickimin leisure complex and sports parks.
More talks with Architecture and Design Scotland are being organised for the councillors who missed what Mr Robertson described as an eye-opening talk from the organisation last month. It styles itself as “Scotland’s national champion for good architecture, design and planning in the built environment”.
Meanwhile, local architects are working on a small study to update the 1999 plans for a school and halls of residence in the Clickimin/Staney Hill area, setting out possible options. Their work should be completed by the middle of next month.
A lengthy public consultation is also set to get under way in the spring to seek views on the impact of shifting the high school site from the Twageos/Knab area. Part of the exercise will involve looking at new future uses for the buildings and land at the current school once it has moved across town. The formal consultation is a legal requirement when proposing to move a school site and will not be completed until December.
Services chairman Gussie Angus said addressing the fate of the existing school site was very important, not least because of the ear-bashing he gets from people who believe the council already has plans to cover the area in council houses.
Councillors are also to get an update on the legal wrangle between the council and Irish building contractors O’Hare & McGovern who were stopped from building the new school at the Knab site last year just days before work was due to get under way. A confidential report will go before the next services committee on 6th May.