In its first full design review meeting, Architecture + Design Scotland, CABE’s new Scottish counterpart, has criticised the largest schools PFI in the UK.

The meeting reviewed 13 out of the 17 design proposals for the £290m South Lanarkshire council school PFI, run by Amec and Laing. It was attended by three of the architects involved – Aedas, Capita Percy Thomas and 3D Architects.

Looking at general design issues rather than specific projects, the panel, chaired by architect Malcolm Fraser, criticised cramped layouts, weak spatial identity and lack of architectural vision.

A report of the meeting, a copy of which was sent to the council, said: “It was suggested that, in some instances, an increase in height could have been a means by which the quality of outside play areas might have been improved.”

One feature the panel welcomed was a central street around which many of the schools were planned. But it was “unconvinced” that they had been successfully developed.

Turning to architectural vision, the panel found that “any aspiration for building with strong architectural and civic status was not in evidence”.

English Heritage this week published a document urging local councils to safeguard historic schools in the light of the government's Building Schools for the Future programme. It is called The Future of Historic School Buildings.