Borders lairds say they have new Kelso school site solution

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TWO Borders aristocrats are offering land for a Kelso new high school.

Last week the Scottish Government announced that construction on a new school for Kelso could start within 18 months, setting in motion a scramble to find somewhere for the new build.

But Lord Kerr of Ferniehirst, Jedburgh, and the Duke of Roxburghe at Floors Castle, Kelso, say they have the solution.

The lairds jointly own 23 hectares – 57 acres – on the north-western outskirts of Kelso, between the town’s racecourse and the A6089 Edinburgh road and Queen’s House care home.

The land is currently zoned for housing under the Local Plan. And they want to build houses, an initial 120 private and affordable homes, along with a residential care home. But they also propose setting aside 10 acres for the new £14.8million school and recreational fields which they say could be used by the community. Planning consultants Clarendon Planning and Development are acting on behalf of the landowners and the company’s Antony Duthie told us: “Nothing at the moment is cast in stone and the idea is to consult fully with the community.

“The respective landowners have a long-term interest in the surrounding environment. It’s (the plan) community-led, it’s not all about commercialism, hence taking the initiative with providing a potential site for the school.”

The landowners lodged a ‘proposal of application notice’ with Scottish Borders Council (SBC) last week that includes ideas for relocating the Kelso racecourse car park – currently next to the course – within the area. They are holding a public exhibition of the provisional plans at the Ednam House Hotel next Thursday (October 11) .

And they hope to take the next stage of putting in an application in principal by Christmas, said Mr Duthie.

The landowners want to sell the 10 acres to the council, but there was no set price tag so far, he said: “It’s very early stages. Discussions are still to be had between the respective parties, private and public.”

Concerning the planned residential home he said the number of people it could cater for had not been decided.

Representatives from Clarendon and architects Aitken Turnbull will be at the open afternoon from 3pm to 8pm to gather public comment.

Mr Duthie said: “There will be a range of development options which we are seeking feedback on. The anticipation is that we will take on board the public’s comments and where possible modify the proposals.”

The estimated £14.8million to build the new school does not include the cost of land.

An SBC spokesman said a project team for the new school had been set up and had had initial meetings, with another set to take place this week.

“The wheels are very much in motion, “ he said.