LOCALS fear the crumbling Inverkeithing High buildings will "inevitably be set on fire" if they're left abandoned for years.

Councillor David Barratt hit out at delays in deciding what happens after the school closes in the summer of 2026 and said the huge £24.5 million future maintenance costs means most of it should be knocked down.

He also submitted a freedom of information request that casts doubt on advice Historic Environment Scotland (HES) reportedly gave to Fife Council before the decision was taken to shut Inverkeithing High.

A report to Wednesday's South and West Fife area committee highlighted the £24.5m costs as one of the "main drivers" behind the need for the new £85m school at the Fleet Grounds in Rosyth.

Dunfermline Press: Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor, David Barratt. Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor, David Barratt. (Image: Fife Council)

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Cllr Barratt said: "For me that casts severe doubt on the viability of any future use of the existing buildings.

"It's ridiculous to consider that the entire teaching block, the tech block, the Wing and the two roundels should all be kept and converted into something other than a school.

"The risk is that Inverkeithing is left with an eyesore and the community view is it will inevitably be set on fire.

"I don't want to see that happen.

"I've been calling since the decision was first made in October 2019 for meaningful engagement with HES so the council can get an understanding of what's possible for the future of the site, not just the playing fields on either side but what can you do with the existing buildings."

Cllr Barratt has called for the community-use wing of the school, including the swimming pool, to be retained and a £20m sports hub to be developed at the site.

He previously suggested that a mixed-use development, with houses on part of the site, could help pay for the project.

Dunfermline Press: It's not clear what the future holds for the Inverkeithing High site when the school closes in just over two years time. It's not clear what the future holds for the Inverkeithing High site when the school closes in just over two years time. (Image: David Wardle)

Property services manager Louise Playford said: "Until a decision is taken on the full business case (at next month's cabinet committee) we can't assume that the project will progress so we do have to go through that process.

"Once that happens we absolutely will be in a position to engage more fully with HES about the existing site and then start to take some of the decisions about what we'll do with the existing site and buildings."

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Alan Paul, head of property services, said HES will "almost certainly" want the council to retain "as much as possible of the existing buildings, in particular the notable features".

He added: "We'll need to work through with them how viable or otherwise that may be. That is going to take some time."

Cllr Barratt responded: "The community frustration will be that when the decision was made in 2019 to not renovate the existing school, there was an immediate call to consult with HES to work out what the future would be for the site.

"We were initially told that couldn't take place until the consultation on the new school had taken place. We waited.

"We were then told it couldn't take place until planning permission had been agreed. So we waited.

"Now we're being told we have to wait until the business case has been agreed and even after that it will be a prolonged period of time for discussions."

He said that a council report in 2019 "stated that HES advised that they would object to the demolition of the existing buildings".

Cllr Barratt went on: "A subsequent FOI request to HES stated there was no such advice given. To me it is not credible to suggest the entire teaching block and tech block and everything else has to be retained.

"I think it's been demonstrated over the last few years that the buildings are not serviceable and the vast costs of £24.5m to continue maintaining the school makes it completely unviable to convert it into anything else.

"The only way forward is to work out with HES how we can retain meaningful parts of the heritage while demolishing other parts of the buildings.

"I would hope the council can advance discussions on that basis."