Melrose resident’s shock over school’s inflatable pitch plans

An 83-year-old widower in Melrose has hit out at plans by the town’s St Mary’s School for an inflatable sports pitch to be put up just yards from his home.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 8:55 am
Len Ainslie at the field overlooked by his home in Melrose, where St Mary’s School is considering installing an inflatable sports hall.

Les Ainslie, of Abbey Mill Park, says the proposed structure, using generators to keep its cover inflated, would be severely detrimental to his way of life.

He told us: “For the past 17 years, I have looked at a marvellous view of an open field from my back window, and all of a sudden, you have an inflatable structure, with lights, people and generators.

“The whole of the field would be covered by it.

“And they say it will be for hockey, as well as tennis and badminton, so you have to ask how high is this going to be?

“This only affects the nine houses on the street, but it will affect us big time.

“I live on the corner, and people further along the orchard will have no view at all.

“If it goes through, it’s going to be a bigger blot on the landscape than anything else I can imagine.”

“I understand it would be rented out to the public as well, which means people would be using it at all hours.”

Mr Ainslie brought up his concerns at last week’s meeting of Melrose Community Council after he had been visited by the Abbey Court school’s headmaster, Liam Harvey, and informed of its plans.

Council chairman William Windram told Mr Ainslie: “You will, of course, have a chance to make a formal objection if and when the application is put before Scottish Borders Council.”

And he added: “I think it would be in the curtilage of the abbey grounds, so Historic Environment Scotland would certainly be interested. They may have some difficulty.”

Mr Ainslie agreed, saying: “They were critical enough when I was building my conservatory.”

St Mary’s is an independent, co-educational day and boarding preparatory school for boys and girls from two to 13 years of age.

Mr Harvey told the Southern this week that he had indeed spoken to residents.

He said: “The school is considering a number of options to improve the availability of sports facilities both for the school itself and the local community, particularly throughout the winter months.

“An air-supported dome is one of those options.

“The school recognises that any development will have an impact on local residents, and we are consulting with neighbours to ensure concerns are heard before plans are finalised.”