COUNCIL planners have agreed that the hunt for a site for a replacement for Knowepark Primary School, Selkirk, should be included in discussions over the local plan.
Discussing the main issues report (MIR) – which is the first stage in the review of the recently adopted local plan and which is going out to public consultation – at last week’s full Scottish Borders Council session, Councillor Vicky Davidson (Selkirkshire, LD), said she welcomed the formal acknowledgement of the need for a new school site in the town.
Ms Davidson has put in considerable effort in recent months to convince officials and fellow administration members that a replacement for Knowepark should be included in the MIR.
“It has been recognised for some time that Knowepark school has outgrown its site and the accommodation is not up to modern standards,” she said.
“A new site has to be found and I’m very glad that the planning department, the education department and the other councillors accepted my arguments that the search for a new site should be formally included in this forthcoming local plan. There are a limited number of options in Selkirk and it’s sensible to identify them sooner rather than later, so that the best site can be identified.
“It brings a long overdue replacement school for Knowepark a step closer and was a vital move forward.
However, it is only the start of the process and it will still be some years before the capital funding for a new build will be available.”
As well as a main building not up to modern insulation standards and recurring maintenance issues, the provision at Knowepark for pre-school children (four-year-olds) takes place in the nursery portable building, with both a morning and afternoon session, and there is no provision for three-year-olds, because of a lack of space.
Ms Davidson added: “The playground is too small for the number of children and the entire site is congested. Add to that, the increasing roll with a projected intake of 50 primary 1s this summer.”
Her fellow Selkirkshire member, Kenneth Gunn (SNP), also welcomed Knowepark’s inclusion in the MRI. “I have been campaigning for Knowepark to be replaced for a long, long time now and, indeed, the present buildings are the same school which I attended from primary one to seven, with the addition of ‘temporary’ classrooms,” said Mr Gunn.
“The school has outgrown its site in Curror Street/Anderson Road and I have suggested alternative greenfield locations to the present executive, which is only now responding and saying that a site must be sought.
“I would say that Knowepark needs replacing sooner rather than later and will be pushing for this move to be put further up the ladder to have Selkirk’s youngsters educated in built-for-purpose buildings with room for playgrounds and playing fields adjacent.
“The present site would lend itself to either community use or a much-needed site for housing, close to the town centre when the new school does get built.
“I am pleased that this is now, at long last, on the agenda.”