Use of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in public buildings
Last updated: Friday 27 October 2023
On Thursday 31 August 2023 the UK Department for Education (DfE) announced that any space or area in schools, colleges or nurseries, with confirmed RAAC should no longer be open without "mitigations" being put in place.
In light of the significant media attention this matter received subsequently we produced this webpage to update you on our school estate in Dumfries and Galloway, and the wider council estate.
Earlier this year, in common with many local authorities across the UK, Dumfries and Galloway Council identified that some buildings we own had the potential to contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
The council commissioned consulting engineers to undertake detailed inspections of nine schools as a matter of urgency. The inspections centred on confirming the presence of RAAC panel systems; assessing their span, width, thickness and condition; and quantifying the number of panels. This work was undertaken in line with guidance from the Institution of Structural Engineers.
The council received the results of all the surveys carried out by the team of structural engineers we hired to undertake this work and four schools were identified as having RAAC panels in Dumfries and Galloway:
- Laurieknowe Primary School, Dumfries
- Carrutherstown Primary School, Nithsdale
- Dumfries Academy, Dumfries
- Gatehouse Primary School, Gatehouse of Fleet
There is no RAAC in any other Dumfries and Galloway Council schools.
Where practicable, any repair work recommended by our consulting engineers to the affected schools is being undertaken outwith school hours. There are no plans to close the schools while this work takes place.
In detail and by way of an update, these are the actions we are taking as of Friday 27 October 2023:
Laurieknowe Primary School - RAAC panels have been identified within the building. These were surveyed and some panels were found to be cracked. The recommendation was that immediate work be undertaken to install further support to a small number of these panels over a small area within the school. This work is now complete. Further work is now underway to replace RAAC panels andthis work is taking place during school hours; it will not impact the operation of the school and all action being taken reflects the advice of the structural engineers. Parents, carers and staff have been informed. We will continue to work closely with Education colleagues and the headteacher as we progress this priority project.
To ensure safety, an enhanced monitoring and inspection regime, by a qualified structural engineer, is being adopted until this work is complete.
Carrutherstown Primary School - RAAC panels have been identified within the building. These have been surveyed and the panels are in good condition. Because of existing end-bearing characteristics the recommendation was that repair work to install additional support be undertaken within the next three to six months. Due to the council being able to secure in-demand contractors, work is underway during the two-week October break. To ensure safety, an enhanced monitoring and inspection regime, by a qualified structural engineer, is being adopted until this work is complete.
Dumfries Academy - RAAC panels have been identified within the building. These have been surveyed. The recommendation is that a six-monthly monitoring inspection regime, by a qualified structural engineer, be adopted at this school. Furthermore, it is recommended that a small number of panels are given additional support within the next 12 months. This work is planned to be complete by end December 2023.
Gatehouse Primary School - RAAC panels have been identified at Gatehouse Primary School. Our structural engineers have now undertaken more inspections and confirmed that the school is safe for pupils and staff. Additional support to a small number of panels has been recommended and this work will be completed by the end of November 2023. All action being taken reflects the advice of the structural engineers. We will continue to work closely with Education colleagues and the headteacher as we progress this priority project. To ensure safety, an enhanced monitoring and inspection regime, by a qualified structural engineer, will be adopted until repair work is complete.
The safety of pupils, staff, parents and carers using these properties is our paramount concern and we will take all necessary measures to ensure this.
In terms of assurance, on the advice of our structural engineers, an enhanced inspection regime has been adopted for all four sites. Also, our buildings have recently been subject to condition surveys and ongoing regular checks are made as part of the Lead Occupier inspections by the council's clerk of works team. These will continue.
The wider council estate
The council has now completed checks for RAAC across its entire estate.
Only one further building has been identified as containing RAAC and that is Annan Swimming Pool. RAAC panels have been installed on part of the roof of this building. The council's structural engineers have inspected the building and there are no immediate safety concerns.The council is awaiting guidance from its structural engineers regarding any remedial works required and an enhanced monitoring and inspection regime, by a qualified structural engineer, will be adopted until any repair work is complete.
There is no further RAAC in any council building in Dumfries and Galloway.
We will continue to update this webpage regularly.