Prep work set to start at academy

How it's proposed the new school will look.How it's proposed the new school will look.
How it's proposed the new school will look.
Preparatory work on a new Galashiels Academy is to begin before a final go-ahead for the £55m project is agreed, it has emerged.

Planning approval was granted for the new school in Scott Park in September last year, despite concerns from opponents over the loss of “treasured green space”.

But before final go-ahead is given the council must undergo a statutory public consultation over the plans, launched this week and lasting until May 12 and including a public meeting at Galashiels Academy on Thursday, April 20, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

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But the public is to see preparatory works at the park starting during the consultation process.

Lesley Munro, Scottish Borders Council’s director of Education and Lifelong Learning, accepts “there is a risk attached to undertaking these works”.

She said: “No decision will be taken in regard to the proposal by either the council or the council’s Executive (Education) Committee until this statutory consultation process has been properly completed.“It should be noted, that in order to progress the building programme and comply with funding requirements, the decision has been taken by the council’s project board to allow preparatory work to progress in tandem with this consultation process.

“The project board has acknowledged and accepted that there is risk attached to undertaking these works before a final decision is made regarding the Academy, but has balanced this against the budgetary and programme pressures of delivering a new school if the decision is made to proceed with the new school.”

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Next month’s meeting will be will be addressed by officers from Education & Lifelong Learning, Infrastructure & Environment and other relevant officers.The meetings will provide an opportunity to hear more about the proposal and ask questions about it.A note will be taken at the meeting of comments, questions and officer responses.

These notes will be published on the council’s website and a copy will be made available on request and will be forwarded to Education Scotland, along with other submissions and comments received by the council during the consultation process.

The new state of art secondary setting will have capacity for 1,000 pupils. A new specialist facility for children with Additional Support Needs will be created, with a hydrotherapy pool which will provide a “transformational learning environment”.

If the decision is made to proceed with the new campus it is expected that work will commence in 2023, with the campus opening in 2025.