COUNCIL planners have approved proposals to extend St Ronan’s Primary School in Innerleithen. 

Scottish Borders Council wants to construct a single-storey extension on the school, in order to meet demand generated by the Scottish Government’s decision to increase entitlement to free early learning and childcare provision. 

The new space will cater for 95 children, with 15 spaces allocated to two to three year olds, and 80 space set aside for three to five year olds.

The plans will also see the relocation of the existing play area, a pumping station and water tank, and fenced nursery garden. 

A design statement, submitted by the council’s in-house architect, reads: “Accessibility and inclusivity have been a key focus during the design development. 

“The provision will be universally accessible and will offer a high-quality learning environment for the children and teaching staff. 

“The proposal has been developed to meet current and future teaching with the primary focus being on teaching spaces that are flexible and adaptive to cater for a variety of needs and learning experiences. 

“The design ethos has been simplified to provide a hierarchy of spaces from the two to three year old’s playroom up to the three to five year old’s playrooms with intermittent shared activity spaces in-between. 

“Large bi-folding doors within the play areas creates easy passage between the indoors and outdoors, encouraging independence and providing additional learning opportunities. 

“A large canopy running the length of the building strengthens the pedagogy of a seamless transition between the spaces and enables children to stay outdoors in wet weather conditions. 

“Furthermore, it minimises solar gain during sunny weather. The south facing aspect also responds to the immersive surrounding views, and a landscape architect is involved with the proposals for the outdoor areas.”

However, the plans have attracted objections from seven nearby households, who raised concerns over noise pollution and traffic congestion. 

Linda McCafferty, of Craig Terrace, writes in her objection: “The new build is going to restrict the view down the valley as we have at present, has this been considered? 

“If so, where is sufficient parking going to be or will ‘wacky races’ remain the status quo? It is a new build and this should be taken into account. 

“Due to the new build coming out towards the residents of Craig Terrace this will now mean that due to its proximity we will overlook the new nursery, which also means that residents will lose their privacy due to the proximity of the new build.”

The proposals were heard at a meeting of the council’s planning and building standards committee on Monday October 7, where council planning officers urged elected members to approve the plans.

Although an objector had been scheduled to appear before the committee, and give their point of view, no one showed up.

Hawick councillor Clair Ramage told the chamber: “I fully support this. The Scottish Government’s extension of entitled hours has highlighted the need for extra buildings. 

“I think the design is innovative when compared to other buildings in the Scottish Borders and I really support this.”

Councillors were in unanimous agreement with councillor Ramage, and the application was granted.