Plans to build what will be Scotland’s fourth dedicated Gaelic school have been passed and work should begin soon on the new building in the Skye capital of Portree, despite design concerns.

Meanwhile the new Fort William Gaelic primary opens in a fortnight, joining the two existing exclusively Gaelic schools in Glasgow and Inverness. These are in addition to 60 odd primary schools with Gaelic medium units throughout Scotland.

Now Highland councillors have given the Skye development planning permission despite local objections to the demolition of the old girls’ hostel to make way for the school.

The central core of the hostel dates to 1859 when it was built as the island’s poor house. In the 1930s it was converted to a hostel for pupils from outlying area of Skye and other islands attending Portree High School.

Portree and Braes Community Council opposed the hostel’s demolition because it was one of the few remaining historic buildings in the village; and thought other uses should be found for it or it should be offered to local community groups.

The planning committee also had reservations about the design, which had been described locally as “a soulless industrial warehouse completely out of character with its surroundings.”

Portree councillor Drew Millar conceded it was hardly “an architectural wonder of the 21st century,” but thought it would be functional. He said it represented one of the biggest steps forward Skye will have taken in Gaelic education since the island’s Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was founded in 1973.

In December 2013 the Scottish Government announced that the Highland Council would receive £3 million over two years to build the new Gaelic primary in Portree, which was originally estimated by the council to cost £8.3m.

The Glasgow Gaelic School opened at the former Woodside Secondary in August 2006, taking pupils from nursery age through primary and the full six years of secondary.

The first purpose-built Gaelic school opened in Inverness the following year providing nursery and primary Gaelic medium education as well as a childcare facility.