Work finally starts on new £64.5m Galashiels Academy

A new £64.5m Borders community school is finally off the drawing board as construction work was launched this week.
How the new Gala Academy will look. Photo: SBC.How the new Gala Academy will look. Photo: SBC.
How the new Gala Academy will look. Photo: SBC.

It’s been a long and rocky road for the long-awaited replacement of Galashiels Academy to become a reality.

But the state-of-the-art school building proceeded to construction on Monday, July 3, following the conclusion of the planning, design and procurement stages.

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The project was initially met with some opposition locally, amid fears that it was to be built on the town’s Scott Park and related concerns over the loss of green space.

The budget has also rocketed due to a “volatile construction market”.

The project team has cost advisers and in the summer of 2022 the project was reporting a revised budget of £60.155m. However, the cost has increased by £4.345m due to “inflationary pressures that have resulted from a range of worldwide events”.

But after an extensive public consultation process and assurances that green space would be protected and enhanced, the project has reached the construction phase.

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The new state-of-the-art school will see the creation of a “modern and flexible learning environment” which will also provide “spaces for use by the wider community”.

Internally, this modern learning space will see core teaching and community spaces arranged around a “vibrant central spine through the building encouraging collaboration, creativity and socialising”.

A variety of sporting facilities will also be included in the new build, including a swimming pool, 2G hockey pitch, 3G rugby and football Pitch, grass football pitch, covered tennis courts and 100m running track.

As part of the plans to provide a replacement tennis facility along with the new school, a funding application has been submitted to Tennis Scotland to add an all-weather covering.

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The proposal to relocate Galashiels Academy to a site comprising the existing school site and part of the town’s Scott Park was confirmed at last week’s meeting of Scottish Borders Council following a statutory consultation with the local community.

A significant re-imagining and expansion of Scott Park has been included within the plans for the school, with the provision of new play park facilities, additional greenspace and improved connections with Gala Policies and Gala Hill woodland.

Hub South East were appointed as a development partner for the project who will oversee the project throughout the construction phase alongside primary contractor Morrison Construction.

The project remains on track to be completed and open to students by December 2025.

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The project is funded through the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme.

Councillor Leag Douglas, SBC’s executive member for Education & Lifelong Learning, said: “I am delighted that we are now able to progress this particular project to deliver a world-class educational facility for Galashiels to the construction phase.

“It is extremely positive news for the wider Galashiels community to know that the project is on course as planned and will open to our young learners by 2025.

“Once open the new facility will provide a well-balanced mixture of learning spaces to provide students with the very best education that will offer every opportunity to them in later life. Combined with this, it will also act as a vital community hub”.

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Roddy Clark, operations director for Hub South East, added: “I’d like to congratulate all parties involved for the work that’s been done in developing plans for the new Galashiels Academy and achieving the key milestone of contract close.

“Reaching the position where we can start main works on site is an exciting step in the journey to a new inspiring learning space for pupils, as well as the delivery of an asset for the wider local community. This further cements the strong partnership between Hub South East and our partners in Scottish Borders Council and we look forward to progressing the build and ensuring the realisation of a range of local benefits and social value”.

David Ewing, managing director for Morrison Construction Building Central, said: “As a business, we have a strong track record in delivering high quality new schools across Scotland, and we are looking forward to working together with SBC and Hub South East to create a fantastic new educational facility that will benefit students, staff and the wider community of the region”.