Warning of parking chaos if Kelso housing plans go unchallenged

The old Kelso High School.
The old Kelso High School.

Fears that Kelso will suffer major traffic congestion problem if plans for the former high school site there are approved are dividing opinion.

Eildon Housing is hoping to demolish part of the Bowmont Street site and turn the remaining category B listed building into 32 extra care one bedroom flats for the over 60s.

Meanwhile Kelso developers M and J Ballantyne is hoping to build a further 47 two and three bedroom homes on the surrounding land.

And while the idea of more homes and social housing has been widely welcomed, the loss of the current on-site parking isn’t proving quite so popular.

“I have reservations about the new housing part of the application,” community councillor Harry Tomczyk told last week’s meeting. “It looks like over-development of the site and the parking within the current school grounds is going to be lost.

“I’m not against the proposals, it’s the lack of provision for parking that I am against.

“Some of the people in the houses on the street side are inevitably going to park on the street.

“Unless there’s some provision for public parking we are causing a huge congestion problem.”

This view was not shared by fellow member James Boulton who argued having a parking problem “was the consequence of having a popular town” and believed “there won’t be a traffic problem.”

Appointed architects Aitken and Turnbull, of Galashiels, said the development agrees with planning policy and it will be down to the council to police any on street parking issues that arise.

Director David Burgher added: “I am aware people use the site for parking for the Baptist Church, rugby and cricket and so forth.

“Ballantyne’s do not want to provide a parking plot. The development needs to be financially viable, but we are aware of it being a problem.”

Community councillor Colin McGrath added outline planning permission for flats at the nearby former D M Wallace factory also exists.
“That could cause a further problem if that outline planning permission comes to anything,” he said. “It’s the knock on effect and we need to anticipate these things before we agree to them.”

With members unable to reach a unanimous view on the plans, they agreed to take more time before formulating a response to planners.