On Tuesday 27 August, Mr Swinney will formally open the new Strontian Primary School building, which was designed, financed and built by the local community.
The unique project came about after the existing primary school was assessed by Highland Council as inadequate for both educational suitability and building condition in 2012. The statutory consultation which followed however resulted in the Council’s preferred solution to address the situation being rejected by the community.
A resolution was found when parents, working with the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT), proposed that they should build a new school and lease it to the Council, in a community-based equivalent to the better known, and more controversial, Private Finance Initiative.
Highland Council agreed to support this approach, as did, importantly, the wider community, and a Community Benefit Society – Strontian Community School Building Ltd - was established to take forward the project.
Construction was tendered on a design and build basis and won by Acharacle-based local contractor S&K MacDonald Homes, with a design from Kearney Donald Partnership, whilst HSCHT took on the role of project manager and development agent.
After breaking ground in October 2017, construction continued apace through to completion the next summer, and pupils moved into the new building almost exactly one year later, in October 2018. The building is situated adjacent to Ardnamurchan High School allowing some facilities such as the kitchen to be shared with the primary school.
Finance for the £930,000 project came from a commercial loan from Triodos Bank, a payment for tenant’s works from Highland Council, a community share offer which raised over £155,000, and £80,000 in grants from the Scottish Land Fund and Foundation Scotland. The local community themselves raised £34,000 from funds generated by their community-owned hydro scheme, and local donations.
Graeme Galloway, relationship manager at Triodos Bank UK, commented: “Triodos Bank is proud to have played its part alongside local people in securing the future of Strontian’s primary school, so that young people on the Ardnamurchan peninsula can be assured of somewhere to learn, play and grow in their local community.
"Our mission as a bank is to finance projects that have a positive impact on people and the planet, so we’re proud to support this kind of progressive work at the heart of remote communities in Scotland, where significant challenges are being overcome.”
An innovative feature of the building is that it has been designed to allow conversion to affordable housing – another community priority – at a future date. This came about as Highland Council did not wish to commit to a long-term lease of the building and requested a break point at 10 years.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP
“It gives me great pleasure to open the first school in Scotland to be developed through a community ownership model.
"The innovative work of parents and the wider Strontian community, alongside construction companies and Highland Council, has given local young people a fit-for-purpose school they can be proud of for years to come.”
Kate Forbes MSP, Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch
“The opening of a new school is an exciting day for any community, but this is even more special because it is the community who built it.
"I know that it has not been easy or pain-free but this is an incredible day for Strontian and the surrounding areas. The new school is a great facility for the young people of the peninsula.
"I am delighted that the Deputy First Minister of Scotland is coming to formally open the school, in recognition that this is not just an important day for the Highlands but indeed for all of Scotland.”
Jamie McIntyre, Chair, Strontian Community School Building Ltd
“We are delighted with our new school and would like to thank all those who made it possible. The end result exceeds our expectations and is a real asset for our community which will help retain and attract young families.
"It has been a challenging undertaking for our community not least as it was a ‘first’ – hopefully our experience will make it easier for other communities to progress similar projects of their own.”
Christopher Millar-Craig, Headteacher, Strontian Primary School (Acting)/Head Teacher Ardnamurchan High School
“It has been a real privilege to be involved in this exciting project as Acting Head Teacher of Strontian Primary, and on behalf of the pupils and staff, our thanks go to all involved in giving us a new School”
- The village of Strontian comprises around 400 adults and children situated at the head of Loch Sunart, approximately 22 miles west of Fort William on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. During daytime it is served by the Corran Ferry, but at night or in severe weather Fort William is a 48 mile drive away.
- Strontian Community Building Ltd is a Community Benefit Society registered with the FCA, reg no 7334.
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.strontiancommunityschool.org.uk
- Facebook: fb.me/strontiancommunityschool
- Twitter: @strontiancsb
- SCSB Ltd was awarded £50,850 from the Scottish Land Fund, the first Community Benefit Society to be supported by the Fund. It received £30,000 from Foundation Scotland (Coram Trust) and £24,000 from the Sunart Community Benefit Fund.
For further information, please contact:
- T: 0117 311 0241
About Triodos Bank
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.
Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain, Germany and France as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands but active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of 54 sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.
Triodos Bank UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.