25 June
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West Lothian Council Executive has approved plans to carry out remedial work after Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) roof planks were found to be present at the old extension of Balbardie Primary School, Bathgate.

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC), often referred to as Siporex, is a lightweight construction material that was commonly used in construction between the 1960s and late 1980s. It is no longer in use in the UK.

As has been previously reported, the council has undertaken a programme of structural surveys on buildings where RAAC roofs may be present and to determine their condition.

The original teaching spaces to the north side of Balbardie Primary School were destroyed by fire in the 1960s.  They were replaced by a three-storey teaching block connected to the original stone building and this teaching block contains RAAC roof planks.

Following a structural survey, engineer noted issues over the condition of the RAAC planks in one classroom, the corridor area and the stairwell. They noted that, whilst there was no immediate risk of failure, that a more detailed inspection should be undertaken of the entire roof deck to determine the wider condition of the planks and to undertake close inspections of the planks soffits/supports. The follow up structural survey concluded that, whilst safe at present, due to its condition, age, stabilisation works should be undertaken. Although the works required present no risk to the building, it is intended to progress these works quickly in order that they can be undertaken during the school holiday period.

Works will commence on 25 June 2021 and are expected to be completed by 23 August 2021.

Whilst the stabilisation works will mitigate the immediate risks associated with the RAAC roof, the council has agreed to replace the roof section.  Detailed design, appraisal and works programming will require to be undertaken to fully understand the scope and timescales for the works. The costs associated with replacing the roof are estimated to be £1.3million.  It is proposed that the works to replace the roof are programmed to be undertaken during 2022/23.

Parents have already been advised on the planned works and issues.

Donald Forrest, Head of Finance and Property Services, said: "Further engagement with the school and parents will take place on the works. Whilst not something we would have wanted, the impact on the school will be minimal in terms of disruption and the majority of the works will be completed by 17 August when the schools return. Looking further ahead, I believe it is sensible to then look at replacing the roof section altogether in future years."