PEOPLE want a swimming pool, and not more houses and cars, when it comes to the future use of the St Columba's and Woodmill sites.

Dunfermline North councillor Gavin Ellis voiced concerns about Fife Council's redevelopment plans following the closure of the high schools next summer.

The local authority also hope the buildings will be cleared and demolished by the end of 2024 to prevent them becoming a "magnet" for anti-social behaviour and fire-raising.

Referring to the council's asset management strategy for 2023-28, Cllr Ellis said: "I'm sure I won't be the only one in Dunfermline who is disappointed to see it's already marked for development of housing especially when we're going to lose a community-use swimming pool from the site.

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"People were hoping to see a new swim centre at least put there, not more housing as that's not required at that site.

"I'd just like to know that this isn't going ahead straight away and that there will be consideration given to something else on that site?"

The Conservative councillor tabled a motion in May, highlighting ongoing capacity and maintenance issues with the Carnegie Leisure Centre and the need for a new leisure centre for a growing city, and raised the issue again at the environment, transportation and climate change scrutiny committee. 

Alan Paul, head of property services, said: "The new Dunfermline Learning Campus is on schedule to open in August next year.

"I would hope by the end of 2024 we'll have removed all of the furniture, equipment and all the other things we need from those existing buildings and be ready to hand over to our demolition contractors to clear the buildings and make the sites safe.

"We can be consulting in parallel about future use. If there is a desire to do a sports-type use or some other community-use facility as part of the redevelopment of the sites, that of course can be considered as part of the consultation."

He continued: "The first phase will be to clear the existing buildings and the reason for that is because unfortunately former school buildings in particular seem to be magnets for anti-social behaviour.

"One of the reasons we're investing in a new learning campus is a consequence of anti-social behaviour which resulted in the loss of half of Woodmill due to a fire back in 2019.

Dunfermline Press: This is what the new £220m Dunfermline Learning Campus will look like.This is what the new £220m Dunfermline Learning Campus will look like. (Image: Fife Council)

"We know that these buildings have been the target of anti-social behaviour in the past and I think it would be prudent to assume they may be the target of similar behaviour going forward."

The new £220 million campus will house St Columba's and Woodmill high schools as well as a new Fife College campus which will open in 2025.

Mr Paul said: "I would say we have invested significantly in community and sports facilities in creating the campus.

“The scale of the investment in relation to the community access offer is almost second to none.

"We have invested heavily and I would hope that would satisfy much of the potential demand but if there is a need to go further, that can be considered in the consultation process." 

Cllr Ellis responded and said the new campus will not replace the community-use pool that will be lost when the current Woodmill closes next year. 

He added: "I appreciate we've invested heavily in the new site but that's for dry facilities.

"What we're lacking in South and West Fife is wet facilities, which we're going to lose at Woodmill and Inverkeithing.

Dunfermline Press: The community-use swimming pool at Inverkeithing High may also be lost when the school closes in 2026.The community-use swimming pool at Inverkeithing High may also be lost when the school closes in 2026. (Image: Newsquest)

"There is an issue and I'm sure residents will be happy to know there maybe some consultation for the replacement of something like, even a basic swim centre rather than it being filled with more housing and yet more cars."

Mr Paul said similar concerns had been raised in relation to the Inverkeithing High site, which will become vacant when a new school opens in Rosyth in 2026.

He added that the cabinet committee had recently asked for a report to be brought before them in January 2024 to consider issues including "swimming provision for Dunfermline and the bridgehead area".

Mr Paul said: "Hopefully some of Cllr Ellis' concerns will be addressed in that report."