News / New AHS faces further eight-month delay

An impression of how the new school's east elevation will look.

THE PROJECTED finish date for the £42 million new Anderson High School and halls of residence at Lerwick’s lower Staney Hill has been pushed back to April 2017.

It has been expected for several months that the previous completion date of summer 2016 would no longer be achievable.

Last month a document leaked to the local media suggested the building would not be open until spring 2017, and that was officially confirmed by Shetland Islands Council on Tuesday.

During a press briefing in Lerwick Town Hall, head of schools Helen Budge said she was “confident” the new completion date could be met.

She said the project continued to be on budget, although the exact cost would only be known at “financial close” in March next year when prices for all elements of the massive project have been received.

The SIC has earmarked £14 million as its contribution to the project, with the remaining two thirds coming from the Scottish Government.


Described by education and families committee chairwoman Vaila Wishart as a “like for like” replacement, the new school will have 39 classrooms, 12 science laboratories, art studios, music and home economics classrooms, a library and an assembly hall.

Once completed, the local authority will save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in maintenance costs for the existing Anderson High School buildings.

The project team is currently finalizing the internal layout of the new school, which will now be a timber-clad four-storey building.

The new halls of residence will have 100 bed spaces with ensuite facilities in all bedrooms.

Wishart said the integrated ASN department with a dedicated entrance would be a “real bonus”.

Budge said the delay was mainly due to the 26 planning conditions imposed on the project – as well as the fact that main contractor Miller Construction was recently taken over by rival firm Galliford Try PLC.

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“There has been some time over the summer when the project wasn’t progressing in the same way it now is,” she said.

Budge said the project team had not expected to be faced with 26 planning conditions which must be met before construction work can commence.

“From our point of view we are delighted to get planning permission and we will work through those condition and make sure we meet them all.”

With building work planned to commence in April 2015, Budge said she was confident the school could be built in two years, even allowing for delays due to the Shetland weather.

Referring to other high-profile capital projects in the isles, Wishart insisted that once financial close was reached the council would not make any changes to the project.

She added: “The new school is designed for a purpose; it is a tried and tested design used throughout Scotland. It really is long overdue.”


Wishart said:  “This is an enormously complex project, and we were always aware that delays were possible, especially given that the process involves a number of partner organisations.

“Having said that, we’re on cousre to deliver a high quality, modern new school – something which Shetland has badly needed for a number of years.”

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