Anger as councillors back demolition plan for Lairdsland

Councillors have backed a plan to demolish a former primary school in Kirkintilloch and replace it with housing.
Photograph Jamie Forbes 10.2.14 KIRKINTILLOCH. Lairdsland Primary School.Photograph Jamie Forbes 10.2.14 KIRKINTILLOCH. Lairdsland Primary School.
Photograph Jamie Forbes 10.2.14 KIRKINTILLOCH. Lairdsland Primary School.

At a planning meeting at East Dunbartonshire Council’s Kirkintilloch headquarters, members agreed to demolish the former Lairdsland Primary School site and build 38 local authority houses.

Several residents and local organisations including Kirkintilloch Community Council, the Scottish Civic Trust, Park Centre and Save Britain’s Heritage submitted 27 objections to the demolition of the old school, calling instead for it to be repurposed and given listed building status.

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Susan O’Connor, director of the Scottish Civic Trust, said her organisation was opposed as demolition represented the reversal of a previous decision to retain the building and turn it into flats.

She said: “The building provides a vital sense of the community’s history to the area, which would be lost through demolition.

“The structure is in relatively sound condition, and could be converted into high quality accommodation if the owners were minded.

“These kinds of demolitions are slowly eroding our Scottish history by removing the everyday elements that define how we live, learn and play.

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“Without them, we have no grasp on where we have come from. We are hugely disappointed that the council has not taken a stronger role to protect this historic structure, in a Conservation Area, when better solutions can be reached that would preserve the area’s links with the past.”

People also expressed concerns over increased traffic and road safety problems caused by the development and claimed not enough had been done to consult with the community.

An online consultation found 78 per cent of respondents were in favour of retaining the building.

However, in its responses to the objections, the council found that retaining the building was not financially viable.

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A report to the committee stated: “The proposal is considered to comply with National Policy and the provisions of the adopted Local Development Plan.

“While it is recognised that the existing building contributes to the sense of place within Central Kirkintilloch Conservation Area creating an urban focus between Kerr Street and Queen Street, it is considered to be a relatively modest historic building with little architectural merit in itself to be retained, and its demolition will not adversely affect character and appearance of conservation area.

“One of the options set out in the Kirkintilloch Town Centre Masterplan was demolition of the building. It is therefore considered that the proposal is not contrary to policy and it is recommended that conservation area consent for its demolition be approved.”