8 good reasons not to re-develop Posties Park…

…in the words of West Dunbartonshire Council’s own geotechnical experts.


If you’ve been following the Dunbartonshire press or the Save Posties Park campaign, you’ll probably be aware of at least a dozen valid reasons why West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) shouldn’t build the new Our Lady and St Patrick’s secondary school on our park.  But some people might wonder if the objections cited by campaigners are measured and objective, or if they are driven by high emotions and NIMBYism.  So, to answer that, I thought it would be useful to publish here the qualified opinion of WDC’s own environmental and geotechnical expert, Ramboll UK Limited.

Some of you might remember seeing this…


This was one of Ramboll’s contractors undertaking core sampling on Posties on Monday 29th July, the day after the Scottish Pipe Band Championships.  A broad range of different methods were employed to survey Posties over the following week or so, and the results of these surveys were subsequently pulled into a report for the council by Ramboll. I obtained a copy of Ramboll’s report through a Freedom of Information request.

The information that I am going to publish is taken, word for word, from Ramboll’s risk register. For now, I’ve excluded the detailed preventative/extra-ordinary steps that Ramboll propose to mitigate these risks, but, in the coming days, I’ll blog in more detail about some of the more worrying results.

Unfavourable ground conditions Areas of made ground have been encountered across the site.  The made ground is not considered as a suitable founding stratum due to the variations in density, shear strength and consistency in the material.

The Beach and Tidal Flat Deposits are also not a suitable stratum to place foundations on due to the very low shear strength and high compressibility of the material.

  • Cost and programme implications (eg delays due to soft ground conditions, large excavations necessary);
  • Risk of differential settlements;
  • Risk of bearing capacity failure;
  • Potential excavation costs;
  • Risk of aggressive ground conditions.
Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) The Zetica regional UXB risk map shows the site to be located in an area of high risk from unexploded ordnance.
  • Cost and programme implications;
  • Potential health and safety hazard.
Kinnesswood Sandstone Formation The depth of the Kinnesswood sandstone is variable across the site.
  • Cost and programme implications due to the variable depth of rockhead.
Groundwater Based on available data, the groundwater table is mainly present in the made ground.
  • Cost and programme implications (eg delays due to unforeseen groundwater conditions.)
Acid and/or sulphate in ground Acid and/or sulphate in ground has the potential to attack and cause degradation to concrete.
  • Potential attack to the concrete substructure.
Stability of an excavation Excavations within loose or soft deposits are expected to be unstable.
  • Potential health and safety hazard;
  • Potential programme and cost implications.
Services (Gas, Electricity, Water, Sewers, Telecom) The site has been previously developed. There may be several existing services for Woodyard House and flood lights and redundant services within the site boundary.
  • Potential health and safety hazard;
  • Potential programme and cost implications;
  • May affect development design.
Previous Landslide/instability of ground Anecdotal evidence indicated that the former shipbuilding works suffered a historical slope failure with a mass movement of material towards the River Leven.
  • Cost and programme implications;
  • Risk of bearing capacity failure.


You’ll probably notice some of the eight risks mentioned here by the experts are reflective of the comments made by residents and campaigners in the local press since May. They’re what you might classify as ‘common sense’ assumptions about a site like Posties which is surrounded by water and built on silt and sand. So if we are saying it, and the Council’s own experts are saying it, why on earth aren’t WDC listening?

None of the risks shown above are insurmountable.  With enough time and money thrown into the mix, you can fix most problems. As of course we saw (and paid for…) with the Scottish Parliament building, and the Edinburgh trams fiasco.

Seven out of eight of the problems above list ‘cost’ in the consequences column. And this is before we even begin to think about the potential costs of the new footbridge which must go hand-in-hand with a school development on Posties Park.

So my question is this : when costs start to spiral on the Posties Park development, which of our local services will be cut as a consequence?  The library? Bin collection and refuse services? Or perhaps the extra-curricular educational and learning clubs, groups and societies that Mr Lanagan assures us will be run from our “iconic” new secondary school.

You must ask your council for answers on these matters before its too late.  Please don’t let a development get underway without a comprehensive and fully transparent exploration of all of the potential risks, costs and impacts on local life.  Your council would have you believe that Posties is the better, cheaper option but doesn’t the information shown above suggest otherwise?  We’ve already seen that the feasibility study isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.  It was compiled before any of this physical surveying was undertaken and it shows Posties as the highest scoring site.  With all of the risks and potential costs shown above, I think that’s a bit fishy.  We need to start getting some clear answers from our council.

But there is only one way to avoid all of the risks shown above –  write to your council before 13th November and tell them that you don’t want a development on Posties Park at all.  Remember, there is a feasible alternative, which will provide a new school and retain our park for future generations.


– MAx


17 thoughts on “8 good reasons not to re-develop Posties Park…

  1. Pingback: An ominous anniversary… | SavePostiesPark

    • Hi Anne,

      If you click on the link in my final paragraph ‘write to your council’, you’ll see a document titled ‘OLSP Proposal Document’. This contains details of the alternative site to Posties Park, which is to build on the current school site at Castlehill.

      Initially, there were 7 sites considered and some of these were brownfield sites which had merit, but WDC discounted them for one reason or another, leaving only the two options now being formally consulted on.


      • The alternative is to build on a site which is too small for a modern school and which will subject the pupils to 2 and a half years of being educated on a building site.

        Are the Save Posties Campaigners happy to admit that if they are successfull those that will suffer the most are the school children? Is this fair?

  2. Pingback: Terry’s Big Propaganda Extravaganza! | SavePostiesPark

  3. Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I can’t speak for all the Save Posties Park campaigners, so I’ll just give you my own personal thoughts.

    I’m happy to admit that I think you’re right – the only other alternative that the Education Services Department has put forward is the current school site, and the plan for that, as it stands, doesn’t include for a second pitch so I guess that makes it too small. I think it’s a pretty poor show that our Council haven’t made enough of an effort to overcome this challenge, and draw up a more appropriate plan, but I’m fairly sure that’s because they’ve already decided that they’re going to build on Posties Park.

    I think that there’s a lot of rhetoric and hyperbole flying about on both sides of the argument, and I’m probably guilty of it myself. But, I have to pull you up on your language. If the current site was to be chosen, the children of OLSP won’t be educated on a building site for 2 years; that’s just silly. They’ll be educated in safe, warm and familiar buildings, which happen to sit alongside a new school development. And please, don’t claim that they’ll be ‘suffering’. Sadly, there are an awful lot of children in the world who are suffering, but the pupils of OLSP, as a whole, aren’t in that number. Thank God.

    – MAx

  4. So now the main issue is the cost. And why does Mr Red Herring not say anything about the dangerous nature of building on this site, as mentioned several times in the report? Surely against the interests of the children? Maybe the council should now take a serious look at the Carvill site on the other side of the river, which it is reported they would be able to purchase for around £4 million. And easy access to everything. It is time for councillors in particular, to think outside their box, even if that box hasn’t got too much in it.

    • Hi James,

      I got this info through a Freedom of Information request, so I’m not sure if it would have been made readily available to the press.

      I’ve also had a more recent FOI response relating to costs, and I’ve raised some queries with the Ward 3 councillors. Cllr Black has, in turn, passed this back to Terry Lanagan for some answers. Once I get some more info, I’ll do a blog about it. Basically though, the most recent published costs for Posties are exactly the same ‘ballpark’ figures that were produced for the original desktop feasibility study. All the data from these subsequent physical surveys appear to have been ignored, and they certainly haven’t been costed in.

      I’m pretty sure that there’s a bit of withholding of information going on here.

      Watch this space…

  5. Pingback: An educator’s view… | SavePostiesPark

  6. Vale of Leven Academy and Dumbarton Academy were both rebuilt on the same site. That must have been inconvenient. Can’t see all the school busses rolling along that road.

  7. Pingback: Thou art a donkey… | SavePostiesPark

  8. Pingback: What price progress? | SavePostiesPark

  9. Pingback: The return of the Ramboll report… | SavePostiesPark

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