New £46m Peebles High School to rise from the ashes

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A new £46m Peebles High School is to rise from the ashes after concerns over ‘inadequate’ athletics provision were addressed.

Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee today, Monday, July 4, unanimously approved the state-of-the-art building.

The existing high school – which suffered extensive damage due to a fire in November 2019 – is to be demolished and a new community campus built on land currently used as school playing fields.

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It is to incorporate an extension to the existing sports pavilion, partial demolition of school buildings, 3G sports pitches, CCTV cameras, playgrounds and a reconfiguration of the car park at the school in Springwood Road.

The fire at Peebles High School in November 2019 meant the building of the town's new community campus was fast-tracked. Photo: Dan Tarrant.The fire at Peebles High School in November 2019 meant the building of the town's new community campus was fast-tracked. Photo: Dan Tarrant.
The fire at Peebles High School in November 2019 meant the building of the town's new community campus was fast-tracked. Photo: Dan Tarrant.

Construction is expected to commence towards the end of this year, with hopes that the school will be ready to open its doors by December 2025.

Earlier this year, concerns were raised that the proposed sports provision at the school failed to give athletes of the future a sporting chance of success.

Peebles Community Council and Sport Scotland were among those that raised concerns regarding the need for a longer training track and inadequate provision for the size of the school.

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In a report to the committee, Craig Miller, principal planning officer, says: “The issue of comparable replacement greenspace and sports provision has, more than any other issue, resulted in the largest number of objections to the proposals.

“These have been received from both local residents but also athletes groups, community representatives and, initially, Sport Scotland.

“Issues raised have been considered further by the agent and discussed with Peebles High School and user groups and amendments made to proposals to incorporate an additional lane on the sprint track, realignment of the long jump with additional sandpit, a shot putt area and a lined 400m grass running track south of Craigerne Lane.

“These amendments are in addition to the initially proposed sports enhancements which include a new 3G pitch, additional changing rooms, dance studio and indoor storage.

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“Sport Scotland have clearly stated that the proposals now meet the national requirement to be comparable and like-for-like with the facilities that currently exist.”

At today’s meeting Councillor Marshall Douglas, Scottish National Party representative for the Tweeddale East ward, said: “I am very impressed with the design, I think it is a very good use of the space available and I think it is to be commended that the existing school will be allowed to stay open as the building work is being undertaken.

“I wonder if there could be some sort of screening along Craigerne Lane to soften the impact of the building because that is the main visual impact. It is really the only slightly negative factor.”

Councillor Douglas was assured that the intention was to have an avenue of trees at that location.

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Councillor Sandy Scott, Conservative representative for the Jedburgh and District ward, supported the application but suggested some of the conditions attached to approval were “over-burdensome”.

He said: “I see there are no objections to this application from roads, the landscape architect, heritage, flood protection. It goes on and on and on but we are wanting 31 conditions. Well, do we want this school or not? With all these conditions it will be into the next century before we meet all these conditions. Do we need a bat survey? I do think it is over-burdensome.”

Mid-Berwickshire Scottish National Party Councillor Donald Moffatt said people in Peebles “had been shouting for a new school for quite a number of years”, adding: “The only thing niggiing in the back of my mind is the large amount of housing that is proposed for Peebles in the future and the fact that there is currently 1,350 pupils there at the moment and there are only 50 more proposed for capacity here.”

Councillor Eric Small, Conservative councillor for the Tweeddale West ward, said: “I think it is a great facility and I think the quicker we get it started the better.”