Plans submitted for the conversion of old Kelso high school into housing

Plans have been submitted to Scottish Borders Council for the former Kelso high school, to be converted into homes for the elderly and affordable housing.

Plans submitted for the conversion of old Kelso high school into housing

The old Kelso High School 

Planners wish to convert one of the town’s more recognisable landmarks into a facility holding 34 extra care apartments for older people. Developers also intend to build 47 affordable homes within the school’s former grounds.

The development proposals include several one-bedroom apartments over two floors, with support accommodation, a central hub and sensory garden.

The extra care apartments are part a decade long vision for the creation of housing, care and support for older people developed by the council and its partners.

Some demolition work is also being planned on the site by Eildon Housing Association, in partnership with Kelso builder M&J Ballantyne. Such work would include flattening the old teaching block, games hall and music block, which all date back to the 1960s, and partial demolition of the main school building. Despite some demolition work, most of the original building which opened in 1939 would be kept.

The old high school has stood empty since October 2017, it was put on the market in February 2018 and subsequently sold to M&J Ballantyne for an estimated £1.5 million.

A spokesperson for the project’s architect, Galashiels-based Aitken Turnbull, said the new housing had been designed to complement the existing building, he said: “The principal buildings of interest are to be retained.”

The redevelopment is being supported by Historic Environment Scotland and has been welcomed by Kelso councillors.

Councillor Simon Mountford said: “I welcome this proposal as there is a very real and growing need for extra care accommodation in the area. We have an ageing population, and it is essential that facilities are provided that meet the challenges that this presents. I am also delighted that this proposed development will create a new use for one of Kelso’s most iconic buildings.”

Councillor Tom Weatherston added: “I am delighted the old high school is to be developed for extra care housing for the elderly. This is part of our 10-year programme to deliver similar projects across the Borders and provide much-needed new housing units designed to the very high standards clients need to live independently, with support, for as long as possible in their own homes. It’s also great news that much of the character of the old school is to be retained. It’s been a Kelso landmark for a lifetime for many, and it’s great that we will still see the old building still standing for many years to come.”

Michael Ballantyne, managing director of M&J Ballantyne, said: “We are excited by the prospect of being involved in the retention and transformation of the former Kelso high school. Our proposals would provide extra care and private housing which will not only safeguard many construction jobs but also have a wider economic benefit.”

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