Old Fordyce School plan is approved
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
The historic Old Fordyce Primary School will open its doors to students once again – despite concerns from the neighbouring head teacher.
Kate and Derek Cowie had applied to Aberdeenshire Council last year in a bid to turn the former Victorian school into a residential teaching centre for adults.
They said they wanted to refurbish the building “as a place of learning – as a school, this time, for ‘grown-ups’ who want to do ‘grown-up work’.”
The 18th Century building, once described as ‘the Eton of the North’ was put on the market in 2014 after it had been mothballed by the local authority.
It was marketed for £80,000 and councillors discussed its potential sale four years later.
Under the plans the new learning facility, to be named Fordyce Academy, would have several classrooms, offices and nine en-suite bedrooms.
Classes will accommodate up to 20 people with the teaching day expected to run from 8.30am until 6pm.
The facility will offer morning workshops, evening classes and weekend programmes.
The applicants said the new academy would “offer a broad curriculum of learning programmes in the fields of personal development, group development, organisation development and leadership development, and, for travellers with a tale, workshops in writing and storytelling skills”.
It is also hoped that the classes would be taught by some of the “world’s greatest educators in the social sciences”.
But worried staff at the next door Fordyce Primary wrote to the council to object to the plan.
In the letter acting head teacher Jillian Ferris said she had two concerns with the proposal.
She said: “There is a shared access point for the Fordyce School and the building which is a safety concern and needs addressing.
“The potential overspill onto school due to the number of residents able to stay in the building will have safety concerns for the pick up and drop off points in the school day.
“The school and the community are concerned as to the increase in traffic – static and moving this small road will have to cope with and how the inevitable interaction with young children and their parents will be affected.”
She also said she had “major privacy concerns” over windows upstairs and feared they would overlook the school’s office, classroom and playground.
However, council planning chiefs decided to give the application the go-ahead.
They argued that the proposed works were “suitably designed, scaled and sited” and would have no adverse impacts on nearby properties.
Planners also said that the proposal would secure the long-term future of the vacant building.
They said: “The proposed works would bring a prominent building within the Fordyce Conservation Area back in to active use.”
The School of Fordyce was founded in 1678.
It came with a fund to cover, in perpetuity, an annual income that would provide 20 boys with higher education for five years at the school and four at Aberdeen University.
Its most celebrated alumni includes two physicians to Queen Victoria and the first woman to graduate with first class honours from Aberdeen University.
The school had been located in various premises in the village before finding its permanent base on School Road in 1882.