‘Teen shelter’ for Peebles Victoria Park moves closer to reality
A teen shelter in a Peebles park where youngsters can congregate safely is moving a step closer reality.
There are currently no designated places in the town where youngsters can gather.
Many tend to hang out in the park, particularly around the day centre and the adjoining gardens.
Now plans are being formulated for a shelter at which they can gather and “make their own”.
Following a survey at Peebles High School in 2021, Peebles Community Council asked one of its members, Malcolm Bruce, to set up and chair a meeting of those with an interest in the welfare of the town’s young people.
This group began to meet towards the end of 2022 and has since named itself Peebles Youth Voice.
At its second meeting in January 2023, provision of a shelter in Victoria Park came up repeatedly.
The group explored a variety of shelter options, including the possibility of involving the young people themselves in its design and construction, which it was considered would create a good sense of ownership and thereby potentially reduce the risk of it being vandalised..
The preferred location, a short walk from Priorsford Bridge, is not in close proximity to housing, at a distance from the children’s play park and skatepark and would be visible from the pathways.
The shelter will be a Beckton Chatshak shelter model CS5, designed from robust galvanized mild steel and described as providing “a sturdy structure which is ideal for installing in parks and other areas where teenagers congregate”.
The young people will be able to personalise the shelter, which it is hoped will increase their level of responsibility and ownership.
Peebles & District councillor Julie Pirone has undertaken two consultations held in the park on separate Saturdays to gauge public opinion about the proposed shelter erection and also engaged online.
While the overall outcome of the consultation – 56% in favour – is supportive, it has to be noted that 30% were not in favour and 14% were unsure, alongside which concerns were expressed by members of the public during consultation.
A report to members of Peebles Common Good Sub-Committee next week says: “These largely focused upon the risks that the shelter would be vandalised and could lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour in the park and surrounding area. It is acknowledged that these risks exist and cannot be wholly mitigated.
“But there is a need. There are no designated places for young people in Peebles to hang out together outside – a natural thing which teenagers have done for generations.
“Young people are already hanging out in Victoria Park and, in the absence of a shelter, congregate in areas such as the Victoria Park Day Centre and adjoining gardens.”
Research has also demonstrated that such shelters can have a positive influence and the shelter proposal is proceeding in parallel with an applicationm to improve lighting in the park.
The shelter would be funded wholly by Scottish Borders Council from small schemes and play park funds.