Plans to create a shared education and leisure campus in Neilston are being taken forward by East Renfrewshire Council.
Councillors on the Education Committee considered the results of a formal six-week consultation into the proposal and approved it being progressed to the next stage.Although funding for any potential development has not yet been identified, the positive consultation response will now allow plans to be progressed.
Having completed this work it also ensures that the council will be ready to take advantage of any future investment programme to support this development.
The Learning in Neilston consultation considered the potential for creating a shared campus for Neilston Primary, St Thomas’ Primary and Madras Family Centre.
It is being proposed that the development will be on the current site of Neilston Primary, as a feasibility study has shown that this location is large enough. The St Thomas’ Primary site was also considered, but was not big enough to include both schools and the family centre.
With more than 500 consultation responses, the majority supported the proposal. A total of 71% of pupils were in favour and 89% of statutory respondees, other than pupils, also agreed.
Staff groups at both Neilston and St Thomas’ Primary, the Diocese of Paisley for the Roman Catholic Church and Neilston Community Council also showed their support for the plans.
In addition, 61% of non-statutory respondees, the majority of which were local residents, were in favour of the proposal.
Education Scotland also supported the proposal and noted that it “provides a number of significant educational benefits for all children, staff and the communities they serve”.
Councillor Paul O’Kane, Convener for Education and Equalities at East Renfrewshire Council, said: “This is a major milestone for this project and having such positive feedback from the consultation allows us to move forward with confidence. We will now ensure we are prepared to start developing this new shared educational and leisure campus as soon as is possible and will look to utilise any new funding opportunities which may arise. It’s extremely exciting for Neilston and will give our residents modern, fit-for-purpose facilities in the village. We will continue to work closely with the community as these plans progress and I look forward to being involved in this work.”
Any future shared campus would retain the unique identities of both schools, with each having its own head teacher and Parent Councils, and would be of a similar size to the Faith Schools’ Joint Campus (St Clare’s Primary and Calderwood Lodge Primary and Nursery Class) which opened in Newton Mearns in August 2017.
As the plans progress, the future facility will be designed in full consultation with parents, pupils, leaders of the Diocese of Paisley and other local stakeholders to ensure it best meet the needs of children, staff, parents and the community.
The move is being progressed due to the current condition and suitability of both the school buildings and family centre.
Major refurbishment and redesign of the current building would be required to ensure they meet the educational needs of pupils, with a £2.8m maintenance backlog already identified across the three buildings.
A significant number of additional homes are planned for the area in the coming years, which will lead to a steady but moderate rise in school rolls, so the Council is considering the best options to ensure the educational provision in the area meets the growing needs of the community.
In addition, East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure currently operates three facilities in Neilston - Glen Halls, Neilston Leisure Centre and Neilston Library – which also require investment to improve their condition.
The existing Neilston Primary site would also be able to provide opportunities for including a new library and sports centre for the village.