Future of old Kelso High School site remains unclear

The old Kelso High School at Bowmont Street.
The old Kelso High School at Bowmont Street.

The future of Kelso’s old high school will remain up in the air for at least six months.

The site, now redundant after the opening of a new £22.5m high school in Angraflat Road last week, was discussed by the town’s community council meeting last week.

There, Scottish Borders Council’s director of assets and infrastructure, Martin Joyce, and estate manager Neil Hastie explained that the Bowmont Street site and its buildings will be sold as a package, going on the open market for a minimum of six months to gauge potential interest.

It is designated for housing in the current local development plan and has been outlined for 50 potential new homes under the council’s recently approved five-year strategic housing investment plan.

However, a number of other potential uses have been bandied about, including calls for it to become Scotland’s first dedicated retirement village or a car park.

As well as questions over what would happen to the sports pitches on the site, members were particularly concerned about the knock-on effect that losing the car park there could have on the town.

Community councillor Harry Tomczyk said: “That car park is often used at evenings and weekends, and my concern is that if there isn’t one there, then it’s going to cause a horrendous parking problem.”

The car park was commonly used outside of school hours by church groups and sports teams, and while Mr Joyce assured that use of the car park to those groups will not cease straight away, he warned: “We are not anticipating there will be any retention of any of the facilities on that site.

“There will be no security, janitorial or lighting on the site, and we have just made a £22.5m investment in the new site, which includes 3G and 2G and grass pitches.

“The business case for the new high school is dependent on the sale of the old high school to create some capital receipts.

“We are aware that certain community groups and individuals are interested from a community point of view.”

He added that there is already competition for the sports facilities at the new school and that groups with access to the existing sports facilities will not automatically assume the same slots.

He also confirmed that plans are afoot to move the war memorial from the old school site up to the new one in the near future.