Lochyside demolition stopped after site found to be ‘live’

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Demolition of the former Lochyside Primary School has come to a halt after it was found the site was still ‘live’.

Diggers appeared onsite on Tuesday April 18 to begin knocking down the building.

The Highland Council and Lochaber Housing Association, working with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust, are redeveloping the site into 60 new homes.

In recent months, the work has been hit with a series of issues.

At the Caol Community Council meeting on Monday May 8 it was revealed that work stopped after a power surge on site caused problems for nearby households.

Donnie Elder lives near the development and is part of Caol Community Council.

He said: ‘There was actually smoke in one home and at least eight houses around Castle Drive were affected. But it could have been a lot worse – someone could have been killed. I still can’t understand why the go-ahead was given for the demolition.’

Representatives from Bracewell Stirling Consultants (BSC), architects for the project, had been invited to attend the meeting, but BSC responded with a statement, read out at the meeting, suggesting they attend in June.

Amanda MacRitchie, a partner at the firm, wrote: ‘We acknowledge there have been some significant changes to the layout since we last met but Scottish Water confirmation on connection points has been severely delayed due to a late requirement for a full network assessment which will take 10 weeks. We are still within this period.

‘Until this is confirmed, we are still unable to finalise connection points and therefore the design. Although we would hope no further changes are required, we cannot confirm this until Scottish Water information is required.

‘As such, we would should arrange to attend your June meeting. This will allow us to report on the finalised design.

‘We confirm that the demolition is presently on hold as two unforeseen items have arisen and require to be resolved before works can resume.

‘One was the discovery of an additional small area of asbestos and this will now require specialist removal.

‘The second was complications with power isolation to the main school building which resulted in some of the surrounding properties being accidentally cut off. Diversions are required to the properties affected before the school can finally be demolished.’

A spokesperson from the Highland Council confirmed to the Lochaber Times that it is aware unexpected problems had been encountered during the demolition of the school and these are now being resolved.

Allan Henderson, councillor for Caol and Mallaig, was at the meeting and said he had had concerns about the work on the development from day one.

Jane Young, chairwoman of Caol Community Council, concluded that she hoped there would be answers in some shape or form from the June meeting.