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Council / Estimated cost of redeveloping old school site rises by more than £2m

An image from the masterplan showing what a redeveloped Knab site could look like. Image: 7N Architects

COUNCILLORS will be asked next week to approve budgeting an additional £2.374 million on the redevelopment of the old Anderson High School site.

A report to elected members says that after more detailed assessments the estimated cost of demolition has risen from £1 million to an estimated £2.454 million.

A further £920,000 has been added to estimates to cater for professional services relating to designing infrastructure, as well as internal resources.

Councillors previously approved a budget of £1 million for the demolition of all buildings on the site apart from the listed buildings and the former science block.

A masterplan has already been created for the site, with remaining buildings to be re-used and six separate phases of new build housing lined up.

A report to elected members which is due to be heard at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday says that officers have carried out a “more detailed assessment of demolition costs, derived from the volume of the buildings to be demolished”, leading to higher estimates.

They have also consulted with officers from other local authorities, and have gained further understanding after tendering the demolition of the former Eric Gray centre.

The council previously said that demolishing the buildings on the site will result in annual revenue savings of £260,000, while it was estimated that the site value will also increase by £1 million when cleared.

Demolition of the buildings at the old Anderson should be complete by mid-2022. Some of the existing buildings are currently being used by council services.

Once the demolition is complete supporting infrastructure can be progressed, such as utilities, drainage and access roads.

Councillor Amanda Hawick, whose Lerwick South constituency includes the Knab site, said she was concerned about the increase in cost and whether it would affect other council services.

She said she will “asking a few questions” at Wednesday’s council meeting.

“It’s a big project, there’s a lot of money already been spent on it, and the worry is with the current situation with the council, where are we going to take the money away from that we’re going to invest into this?”

The report to members also reveals that the council has been engaging with Shetland Arts on possible collaborative use of the buildings which will be retained, in particular the Anderson Educational Institute.

It says the arts agency is engaged along with the council, in pursuing funding through the Islands Deal for a “creative industries hub” in the institute building.

Councillors will be asked to approve delegated authority to council officers to agree terms with Shetland Arts for the occupation of the Anderson Educational Institute building.