SENTIMENT cannot stop progress.
That was the view expressed by Borders Party councillor Sandy Aitchison, the Scottish Borders Council's Executive Member for Education, as the local authority prepared to demolish the the old school house in Melrose to pave the way for a new extension to the primary school.
He said: "It's always sad to see an old building being removed, especially in a town like Melrose where the architecture is so important to the town and its character but I'm sure the children will enjoy the greater space. It will give them the opportunity for more exercise, which is a good thing."
The council this week confirmed it has appointed Glasgow based demolition contractors George Beattie and Sons Ltd of Kilsyth to take dismantle the old school house brick by brick.
Work is expected to begin on the project on Monday, October 15, and last around three weeks.
It is hoped the stone could be used in the new building, as well as local bridge repairs.
Councillor Aitchison said: "Beneficial progress cannot be halted by sentiment but a certain sadness will prevail for the older residents of Melrose and former pupils."
Last year the Border Telegraph revealed council chiefs were planning to push ahead with plans to demolish the old school house in Melrose - even though building work on the new extension might not begin for a number of years.
Council Leader David Parker, speaking at the time, claimed it was needed because the building in Huntly Road had reached capacity and finding suitable land to build a new school elsewhere in Melrose, he said, was "impossible".
However, the Leaderdale and Melrose Councillor was unable to confirm when work on the new extension might begin.
And community councillors, who revealed they had not been consulted on the demolition plans, expressed concern over the creation of an unsightly gap site.
Provost William Windram, chairman of Melrose and District Community Council, suggested the building could have been used as offices until the council were ready to proceed with the building of the new extension.
But it was hoped flattening the old school house would help move forward the timetable for building work.
A spokesperson for the local authority this week said: "Scottish Borders Council will shortly start work on the development of Melrose Grammar School which will take place over the next few years.
"In order to provide space for developments to move forward in the future, the Council, with the involvement of the school and parent council, approved the removal of the former school house. Once it has been removed the area will initially be used as additional alternative playground space.
"The school house will be taken down carefully so that the stone and other elements of the building can be recycled or reused in forthcoming projects. In particular, the external stonework is to be retained by SBC for use in future masonry bridge repair works."
Scottish Borders Council has apologised to local residents for any disruption during the demolition.
The local authoirty spokesperson added: "SBC is working closely with the contractor and the school to minimise disruption during the works.
"As there will be additional traffic movement in and around the area during this time the Council apologises in advance to local residents for any disruption and thanks them for their patience and co-operation whilst the works are ongoing."