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Councillors back Roysvale site for new Forres secondary school despite flooding concerns

By Ewan Malcolm

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MORAY councillors have recommended that the site for the new secondary school in Forres should be Roysvale and Applegrove playing fields.

Forres Academy. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Forres Academy. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The selection of the new site was discussed at the the Education, Children’s and Leisure Services Committee today (May 14).

Roysvale was one of two options, the other being Lochyhill off the A96 between Forbeshill and Forres Enterprise Park.

While councillors backed the recommendation to select the Roysvale site, approval must be granted at full council next week.

Councillor Scott Lawrence (SNP, Forres) said that the site’s central location, accessibility, lack of transport complications and its potential to be used by other members of the community make it the better option.

He added: “It will bring educational benefits with the campus model and as a centralised sport and leisure hub with tennis courts, a 3G pitch, swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool it could become unrivalled in Moray and across the north of Scotland.”

Cllr Lawrence outlined concerns for the site as well which were echoed by some of his fellow councillors.

That included potential drainage and surface water issues.

However, Andy Hall, programme manager, said that discussions are being held with Scottish Water on these potential issues.

The first option will be to create a connection with the Mosset Burn and the second will be to connect the site to the existing drainage network.

Councillor Paul McBain (Conservative, Forres) seconded Cllr Lawrence’s motion to back the recommendation.

He said: “I truly believe that this is the right way forward and this is an exceptional opportunity for the people of Forres.”

Roysvale Park near Forres Academy. Picture: Beth Taylor
Roysvale Park near Forres Academy. Picture: Beth Taylor

Ahead of the meeting, Forres New Academy Forum (FNAF) sent local councillors Kathleen Robertson (Conservative), Paul McBain (Conservative), Scott Lawrence (SNP) and Draeyk van der Horn (Green) documents with detailed arguments against choosing the Roysvale/Applegrove site.

A spokesperson for the group said: “We expressed the considerable risks associated with constructing a new secondary school on the Applegrove playing field site.

“It is clear in the report to the committee that there is a strong bias persisting in favour of the Applegrove/Roysvale site, regardless
of the concerns we expressed.

“The public survey outcome and our significant concerns have been disregarded.

“The driver for this conscious bias is financial.”

The group added that it is not convinced by measures proposed to deal with flooding issues at the Roysvale site.

The group’s spokesperson said: “Attenuation tanks, previously sited at Applegrove in an attempt to alleviate the effect of flooding, have failed, and it is likely that the Applegrove tank will be covered by the footprint of the new school.

“Installation of attenuation tanks will be a major undertaking.

“It is likely the proposed location of these tanks will be the Common Good Land of Roysvale Park, an area with a high water table on a flood plain and with an Victorian drainage infrastructure that is already overwhelmed at periods of significant rainfall.

“To correct this the drainage infrastructure will require a complete overhaul throughout the area with an exorbitant cost.”

The spokesperson added: “We hope and trust that Moray councillors when they come to vote will see the situation with clarity and respect the concerns and wishes of the people of Forres.”

The recommendation will be taken to the meeting of full council on May 22 for approval.

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