Old Earlston High set to come down

HOPES have been expressed that the former Earlston High School building now standing empty will be demolished sooner rather than later, before it becomes more of an eyesore.

At last week’s draft budget announcement by senior Scottish Borders councillors and local authority officials, it was revealed that the former secondary school building. which was replaced by a new high school just over three years ago at a cost of £28m, is to start being flattened some time later this year.

The council has always hoped the site could be sold for housing but with the property market collapse of recent years the former school has lain vacant since 2009.

Commenting on the building at last week’s briefing, SBC leader David Parker said demolition work needed to start on the former school as it was in a poor condition.

However, an investigation is underway into the possibility of part of the site being used to house a new complex needs centre .

And Mr Parker has given assurances that this more modern wing, which is the part being looked at, will not be razed during the demolition 

SBC intends spending £500,000 to flatten most of the buildings over the next two years.

Local community councillor John Paton-Day says there are mixed feelings about the fate of the former secondary.

“I guess it’s always a time of mixed feelings when something that has been a part of a community for a while comes to an end,” he told TheSouthern this week.

He went on: “But the Earlston old high school has become a sad sight since its closure and I guess it is time for it to go before it be comes even more of an eyesore.

“It will be very important that the site is levelled and left clear of debris, and not be an ugly or dangerous space.

“I would liked to have seen part of the old school main building used for community use but the running cost and repair bill made that impossible.

“I hope that the site will not be vacant for to long – maybe the council along with the Scottish Borders Housing Association, Berwickshire Housing and Eildon Housing could work together to develop the site for a mix of social and affordable homes to buy.”

The old school was replaced by one of the region’s new flagship secondaries as part of a £76million public-private partnership project.

The new school has not been without its share of problems and controversy, including November’s collapse of part of an art classroom ceiling during maintenance work.

At the time of the incident, Mr Paton-Day called on the council to seek compensation from the builders, claiming the ceiling collapse was just the latest in long list of defects since the school opened, including flooding of a sports field; front concrete steps breaking up; a large number of leaks; a large panel from the front of the building falling off; inadequate classroom temperature control; fire door closers not fixed securely and floor screed throughout the school being uneven.

He called on the council to seek financial compensation from the builders.