Former Lochyside school demolition imminent

The former Lochyside Primary School is set to be redeveloped. Photograph: Abrightside Photography.

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The demolition of a former Fort William school to make way for 60 new homes is set to take place next month.

Development plans between the Highland Council and Lochaber Housing Association (LHA) will see 60 new houses, a mixtures of affordable flats, bungalows and villas, built on the former site of Lochyside RC Primary School.

The site was originally earmarked for 70 houses but plans were changed after a number of concerns were raised by the community about the layout of the site.

Representatives from architects Bracewell Stirling, the Highland Council and LHA all attended Caol Community Council’s meeting on Monday night to detail plans to the public.

The meeting heard how demolition of the former primary school will start the week of March 20 and will last eight weeks.

The architect also said they are about to go out to tender for the construction of the new homes, which are expected to take 12 months to build.

A Highland Council housing representative said: ‘We are not going to prolong this, we are going to get on site as soon as possible.’

The bus stop and shelter at Kilmallie Road will be relocated during the works but a spokesperson for the architects said: ‘The new bus stop and shelter will be done early on in the process and we will put up a temporary shelter if need be.’

The number of two-bedroom houses has been questioned, with one comment on the application stating, ‘there are too many two bedroom apartments planned’.

The person continued: ‘Eight three-bedroom homes is totally inadequate and I do not see how this number was decided in accordance to need.’

But at the meeting on Monday the architects said they are responding to the needs of people in Lochaber.

However, while some of the bungalows are wheelchair usable and there are ground floor flats, people at the meeting were concerned about them having no carports. The architect said they will be meeting with the Lochaber Disability Access Panel soon.

Other issues raised were questions over the proposed play area. One resident said plans should be for a more ‘natural’ play park, with tunnels and rocks, rather than the traditional swings and slide.

She said this would ‘still look good’ and make an ‘interesting playing environment’ without the need for as much maintenance from an already stretched council. It was feared that the park would fall into disrepair if not maintained and this was suggested as an alternative.