Future residential use of school examined

A visualisation of the new Kelso High School
A visualisation of the new Kelso High School

The council has confirmed that it is looking to sell the existing Kelso High School building for residential use once the new school is opened.

At a meeting of the planning committee on Monday, councillors approved the full application for the new school, to be built off Angraflat Road.

And this week, a council spokesman confirmed: “The council has been undertaking some background work for the old high school site with Historic Scotland to find out what is feasible from a listed buildings perspective, bearing in mind that the original art deco core of the building is considered to have a high architectural and historic value.

“More generally, the council’s position is, with the development of a new high school for Kelso, with state-of-the-art sports and community facilities, it is not in a position to retain the old high school site once the new school is opened.

“As a result, it would be looking to dispose of the premises for a viable use and current thinking is that a residential use might be most appropriate, given that it is within a residential area.”

Community facilities at the new high school will be separately accessible in the western wing of the building, and senior planning officer John Hayward said the development showed a “strong commitment to the civic infrastructure of the town”.

However, concerns were expressed about the provision of just 16 drop-off spaces on Angraflat Road.

Roads planning officer Derek Inglis said research at the school found that 94 pupils were driven to school in the mornings and 58 picked up by car at the end of the day.

Councillor Stuart Bell said: “I am not satisfied that there is adequate provision for drop-off and pick-up of children.”

But Councillor Michelle Ballantyne said: “We should be discouraging people from dropping off pupils at the high schools, because, quite frankly, they do need the exercise.”

She added: “We are not talking about young children coming out of school and parents worrying about them, we are talking about teenagers.”

Committee chairman Councillor Ron Smith said further drop-off spaces should be explored by the project board.

Work on the new school will start early next year, with it expected to open in late 2016.