Plans for Jedburgh’s new inter-generational education campus were given unanimous backing by planners this week, meaning that work can get under way on site in a matter of months.
Scottish Borders Council had already given its support to the project at its last full meeting last month, and on Monday its planning committee accepted the recommendation to give it the final go-ahead.
It welcomed the application to demolish the existing Parkside Primary School, in Priors Road, and merge it with Howdenburn Primary and Jedburgh Grammar schools at a single campus at Hartrigge Park.
However, concerns over access to the site during and after construction created a bit of a stumbling block for councillors.
The main entrance into the new campus is to be along Waterside Road, which connects the A68 with Priors Road, and up through the site of the former Parkside School.
While that has not been objected to by either the council’s road planning department or by Transport Scotland, the later has raised concerns about the road’s suitability for handling both construction traffic and general traffic once the campus is complete.
Transport Scotland says the road is just 5.3m wide at its narrowest point and raised specific concern about the junction of Waterside Road onto the A68, which is not wide enough to allow two buses or potentially a bus and vehicle to pass one another.
The council’s senior roads planning officer, Alan Scott, said: “The main concern that we had was associated with vehicles on Waterside Road.
“The remedy will require the widening of Waterside Road to allow larger vehicles to pass each other.”
He added that the mini-roundabout at the top of Waterside Road will be increased in size and that Priors Road will be altered to include a right-hand turning lane into the school site.
The committee asked if there is an alternative route available to reduce the volume of traffic.
Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison suggested: “Nothing has been said about the access from Oxnam Road.
“Why are we not making more of that? That seems to me to be the sensible way in.
“Why can’t we widen that pedestrian access, even just for the construction phase?”
East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton added: “The Mainetti site strikes me as an option for getting in to the site as an avenue that has never been touched upon.”
But Mr Scott said neither suggestion was likely to be an easy option owing to land ownership issues at Oxnam Road and the land at Mainetti and Starrett being privately owned, but he confirmed that the council would enter into consultation with the town’s factories to see whether such an access would be an option, as well as looking further at the option of widening Waterside Road.
The new school is expected to open in 2020.