THE poorest pocket of the Highlands is a step closer to having a new school campus.
Councillors are next week expected to approve plans to bring the category B listed Merkinch Primary and nursery school into the 21st century with larger premises, all-weather sports pitch and multi-use games area.
It could also feature a family centre.
Previous extensions will be demolished. A new extension would feature a two storey teaching block to function as a new primary school and nursery with an adjoining single-storey, double-height sports block.
The council promises a "contemporary design and twin pitched roof".
Planners have recommended the south planning committee approve their plans for the 142-year-old school at a meeting next Tuesday.
The plans include provision for play areas, gardens and a courtyard.
Existing pedestrian and vehicle access from Telford Road would remain but two new accesses would be created on Carse Road, one providing access to four disabled parking bays. Another, at the western end of the site, would lead to a new car park.
An existing recreation ground to the rear of the school is widely used by the local community. As part of the development, the land would become part of the school grounds but remain available for community use outwith school hours.
The area, known as the Carse playing field, is used by the Merkinch Partnership which was established in 2006 to help support and build projects focused on the environment, culture and the arts.
A new car park would service the primary school and nursery while the family centre would make use of the access and parking area off Telford Road.