A new £46m Borders school is off the drawing board
Plans for a £46m replacement of fire-ravaged Peebles High School are a step closer reality after an initial planning bid was submitted to Scottish Borders Council.
Glasgow-based architects Stallan Brand have requested a Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening opinion from the council in relation to the proposed replacement of the Springwood Road school.
The plan is to build a new two-storey community campus building on the existing school rugby pitch.
The proposal also includes new or enhanced hard and soft landscaping,
internal paths, service access, car parking, and external sports provision,
including a new 3G all weather sports pitch.
The proposal is to demolish all existing school buildings with the exception of the recently completed sports block and historic science block.
A full-rebuild option was taken forward by the council following a feasibility study conducted in December 2020 which examined the benefits of a full new-build of the school as opposed to a part-rebuild of the facilities.
The preferred option was shown to significantly reduce the overall construction time of the project and minimise potential disruption to pupils throughout the process.
The new site is expected to be completed by August 2024 if planning permission is approved later this year.
The high school was the site of a fire that did major damage to the building in November 2019.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland launched an investigation into the incident and two boys were charged in December 2019 with wilful fire raising.
Educational provision in the Scottish Borders is going through a significant transformation.
New education provision, including the high schools at Eyemouth, Earlston, Berwickshire (Duns) and Kelso, has resulted in significant benefit to those communities.
Alongside this is the recently completed campus in Jedburgh.
Scottish Borders Council is also committed to continuation of this major investment with new projects including Peebles High School, Galashiels High School, Hawick
High School and Selkirk High School.
A spokesperson for Stallan Brand said: “The requirement for an investment in Peebles High School has been accelerated due to a fire in 2019 which resulted in parts of the school being unstable and temporary measures having to be introduced including temporary classrooms in portacabins.
"Following the fire, an options appraisal was carried out during 2020 to consider potential for replacement around two thirds of the High School, retaining the existing millennium wing and the fairly recently completed sports building and associated all weather flood lit pitch.
“This options appraisal led to a conclusion that it would involve complicated phasing which would result in significant ongoing disruption to pupils during construction and take a long time to deliver.
"Given the challenges of a partial replacement, the potential for new build option was considered. This has identified that a transformational new campus could be delivered in the grounds of the school whilst enhancing the public space. There are significant benefits as it can be constructed as a clean tandem build, allowing the impact on the existing school during construction to be minimised. It can also be constructed far more quickly and with less risk avoiding unnecessary cost and disruption.
“The complete new build is more expensive than the partial replacement but represents far better value for money overall as it will avoid significant disruption during construction, it will deliver far better education facilities and far more energy efficient facilities making the investment far better value in the long term.”