Will any of the existing Hawick High School buildings be retained when a new £48m replacement is built?
Is this the shape of things to come for a new Hawick High School?
The above concept image is a vision of how the £48m state-of-the-art four-storey complex could look.
Members of Scottish Borders Council have rubber-stamped plans to ensure that a new school – earmarked for completion in 2027 – remains at the heart of the community it serves.
It’s an ambitious and long-awaited development.
The plans will see the new school developed in the area of ground between the adjacent cricket club and the older school buildings.
But as always the devil is in the detail and among the many positives townsfolk may have to accept sacrificing the existing historic school structures.
No definitive design for the building has been formally rubber-stamped but the proposed vision would result in the complete demolition of the current school.
It’s an outcome town provost Watson McAteer suspects may need to be accepted.
He said: “This design does not incorporate any of the existing school. However at this stage that does not mean the old 1860 building will be demolished. That is what will be decided during consultation.
"The key issue will be whether or not old and new can survive next to each other if there is to be a useful plan for the old.
"It is essential that the campus should be community focused. I suspect the preference will be for a ‘clean’ site as described here but we will need to wait.”
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The plan is to build it in one single phase, with the existing school remaining operational throughout, to minimise disruption to students and deliver the finished building in the quickest timescale.
Benefits of the proposed site would include continued access to the adjacent synthetic 3G and 2G sports pitches at Volunteer Park along with ongoing access to the established access arrangements at the Common Haugh for bus travel to and from the school.
Under the current proposal, on completion of the new building, a follow-on phase would see the old school buildings demolished and a new public entrance plaza created.
Speaking at last Thursday’s full council, Councillor McAteer said: “A new purpose-built £48m high school in Hawick in place by 2027 – we would have liked it earlier, however – is something we and our young people look forward to in eager anticipation. The consultation will raise many questions and some will concern what will happen to the existing 1860 building. What I will say is, whether the building is retained or not, or indeed demolished, this area must become a purposeful and real community asset and facility.”
Fellow Hawick councillor Clair Ramage, a former teacher at the high school, said the new school had been a “long time coming”.
She would like to see a community leisure complex incorporated as part of the plans, adding: “When I came to Hawick in 1979 to teach we were told there would be a new school but instead it was postponed indefinitely.
"Hawick desperately needs a school fit for the 21st century, a school that will inspire our next generation.
"A modern, well-equipped school will help our pupils move on in life, but we have to get this right.
"There will be consternation within the town over the loss of the Henderson building, the original training college, which local people used for training, for their knitting skills.
"I taught in this iconic building for 34 years, which I feel is the most interesting architecturally on the current campus. It was built around an open square with a fountain in the centre and arches.
"The two current principle buildings are iconic as you come into Hawick from the south, so we have to have an equally iconic new build.”
Councillor Carol Hamilton, executive member for Children and Young People, said: “Developing and improving the education infrastructure within the Scottish Borders has been a primary focus for Scottish Borders Council in recent years and it’s now Hawick’s turn to reap the benefits of a brand new facility.
“The replacement of the existing Hawick High School with a modern and world-class educational facility will deliver a wide range of educational benefits to the young people of Hawick.
“The council’s preferred option would see the new school facility remain at the heart of the community and deliver a range of educational and community facilities to improve opportunities and access for everyone in the Hawick area.”
A community consultation exercise will be undertaken throughout the remainder of 2021 both online and in-person to gather the views of the wider community and present the initial proposals in full.