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  • commented 2017-06-14 12:44:44 +0100
    Dear Kevin,

    Firstly, congratulations on your electoral victory – a much welcome fresh start for our constituency!

    I’m contacting you to enlist your help in regard to the proposed plans for the new high school in Queensferry. This development is a once in a generation opportunity to finally provide the community with the facilities and opportunities it so desperately needs and deserves. However, having visited the first consultation session last night I fear that the architects and planners are about to badly let down the community. Please could you add your voice to the consultation process in order to remind those concerned of their responsibilities to the wider community of West Edinburgh?

    The school design looks fine but the community facilities are very disappointing. Given the non-existing community facilities in Queensferry and the massive housing expansion that the town is undergoing we were promised (in particular by Angela Constance last year) that this would be a building ‘…the whole community will enjoy for generations to come’. Sadly this is not the case and the community element seems like a very limited and underwhelming afterthought. Our kids need facilities that they can access and use in evenings and weekends – long after teachers (who I assume have dominated the design process up to this point) have left the Ferry at the end of each day for their better catered for parts of Edinburgh. Anti-social behaviour is increasing in the Ferry and a major element is the relative isolation of our community and lack of local facilities. The current plans propose a like for like replacement of facilities that were already inadequate at present population levels but will be wholly lacking given the Government and Council drive to exponentially expand the population of West Edinburgh over the coming decades. Queensferry has been promised improved community facilities for years and if this opportunity is missed then I fear another will not come around for decades to come.

    Please could you use your influence to encourage the architects and planners to use the consultation process to truly understand what the community wants and needs before the plans are approved in the autumn? The plans need more inspiration and buzz about the community proposals. Not pie in the sky stuff – I’m not talking magic money trees – I’m merely seeking parity with places like Lasswade. For the same budget (actually £36M which is approximately £4M less than Queensferry’s £40M budget) Lasswade recently got a state of the art high school (and for 1500 pupils compared to the 1200 proposed for Queensferry!) with a state of the art community centre. Their architects and planners were able to provide the Lasswade community with: a 6 lane pool (including a spa, sauna and steamroom), squash courts, several large sports and fitness halls and studios, and a gymnastics academy which is a centre of excellence for East Scotland. The design, regarded as an exemplar for the Schools for the Future programme, also includes a large community reception area with exhibition space, an internet cafe, a library, and a creche.

    Queensferry is growing and the facilities must be able to grow with the town – it cant just be a like for like replacement. Sport is a positive outlet for kids and the plans need a more imaginative and innovative approach. How much extra would a 6 lane pool cost instead of the current narrow and restrictive 4 lane? Could there also be better integration and articulation with the current and rather forlorn community Hub? We need a focal point for our community that will keep kids from causing havoc on the streets and instead encourage and inspire them to channel their energies into evening and weekend activities in a buzzing and vibrant high school campus that could become the heart of the Queensferry community.

    So how about a light, spacious and welcoming community reception area, with maybe a bit of community exhibition space which could be used by young and old alike? How about facilities for the already thriving ballet classes in the area or a new community library to replace the current much loved but rundown venue? Another very practical addition would be a café which could be used as a meeting place for parents dropping off or picking up kids after classes or where more mature members of our community could meet before their art or zumba evening classes? Design details like these will really make a difference to how well the community engages with the new campus.

    This is a very achievable aspiration. All this has been provided in other similar building projects with similar budgets (e.g. Lasswade, Newbattle). Please help our growing community thrive not just during school hours but throughout the week – the needs of the kids, and the community they live in, don’t simply stop at the end of the school day.

    The Ferry has waited long enough and deserves better than this!!

    Kindest regards,

    Brian Connolly,

    South Queensferry Resident