South Scotland

Dumfries schools project officially begins

St Joseph's College Image copyright Sandy Young
Image caption Head teacher Bernadette Jones and pupils marked the official start of works

The multi-million pound first phase of an overhaul of schools provision in Dumfries has officially begun.

A groundbreaking ceremony at St Joseph's College marked the start of the project.

The first phase of the Dumfries Learning Town (DLT) scheme will see the school overhauled and a new campus built in the north west of the town.

A new "learning hub" is also being built by main contractor Graham Construction as part of the project.

Pupils at St Joseph's were moved into a set of temporary classrooms at the start of the new school term in August.

The work will include refurbishment of an existing extension and the demolition and construction of a new wing to provide all facilities under one roof.

External works will include the provision of a new 3G sports facility and the reinstatement of grass pitches.

When completed, St Joseph's will be more than 8,000 square metres in size with accommodation for 644 students and 72 staff.

'Exciting project'

Image copyright Graham construction
  • Gary Holmes, regional director of Graham Construction, said: "DLT is an innovative and exciting project and we are proud to be here today at the start of work with the partners to deliver a new approach to education for the area, starting with the redevelopment of historic St Joseph's College. We have a strong track record of delivering first-class educational facilities across Scotland, from refurbishing existing premises to designing and creating bespoke buildings. The Dumfries programme is one of the largest we have undertaken and a challenge we welcome and relish."
  • Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "Today marks an exciting milestone for Dumfries. The new DLT will provide a fantastic environment for children to learn in for generations to come. The Scottish government has worked closely with Dumfries and Galloway Council to help improve its school estate and I'm pleased we could invest around £16.7m towards the restoration and refurbishment of St Joseph's College and the construction of North West Campus. I look forward to seeing these new facilities when they are completed in 2018."
  • Councillor Jeff Leaver said: "Providing the best start in life for all our children is a priority for our council. The DLT project demonstrates our total commitment to delivering school facilities that are fit for purpose in the 21st Century. I am delighted that work is now starting at St Joseph's College to refurbish existing historic buildings and create new buildings. Along with our teaching staff, the new facilities will offer wonderful learning opportunities for our young people."
  • Michael McBrearty, chief executive of development partner Hub South West Scotland, said: "The DLT project will generate substantial employment, growth and investment at a local level, whilst creating the infrastructure to support the ongoing education of the young people of Dumfries and Galloway."
  • Peter Bulmer, who chairs the parent council, said: "Today marks the start of an exciting new phase in the redevelopment of St Joseph's College as part of the council's Schools for the Future programme. It really has been a partnership for the parent council working with the council's project team. We are delighted the school is part of the first phase and the provision of temporary accommodation within the school ground is an absolute bonus to minimise disruption for children, parents and staff. Everyone can follow progress of the building works as they take place and look forward with pride towards the opening of the new school facilities."

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