Hopes of Selkirk High School’s new £800,000 2G pitch being built this summer are in doubt after community councillors rejected proposals as “ill conceived”.
Earlier this year, Scottish Borders Council submitted a planning application to build a synthetic sports pitch on the High School’s fields. However, it soon hit a snag because the proposed access road for emergency vehicles required widening the path, and possibly removing trees, down the side of next-door Pringle Park – land owned by Selkirk’s Common Good fund.
A dispute flared up at March’s community council meeting when its planning spokesman, Ian King, called the “encroachment” the “thin edge of the wedge”, and decried “bureaucracy over-riding the community, and putting the environment at risk”.
However, in April Selkirk’s Common Good Fund agreed to share its land, reassured by Graeme McMurdo, the 2G pitch’s project manager, that the local authority would do its best to protect all the trees. He also argued that creating an access road on the council side of the boundary would mean losing three to five metres from the pitch.
But now the community council has refused to endorse the development, with Mr King saying: “There are still too many unresolved questions and that the proposals, as submitted, represent an ill-conceived project.
“The community council has the benefit of considerable local knowledge and experience, and is sorely disappointed that the Common Good Committee – who are the supposed guardians of this local amenity – has not seemed able to grasp the wider implications involved.”
Mr King said: “The community council is minded not to give consent without explicit reassurance from Scottish Borders Council” – regarding a 13-point list of fundamental concerns.
He concluded: “This application demonstrates an unfortunate disregard for protecting the land belonging to the Selkirk Common Good.
“The Pringle Park environment should be kept intact and not eroded.
“Access should be taken via the existing field gate and kept within the existing school grounds. Or an alternative informal maintenance access might be taken from the road to Buxton between the existing houses (Eastcote and Goslawdales Cottage).”