PLANS for the sport provision at the new Galashiels Academy development have been described as “short-sighted”.

A special meeting of the town’s community council was held last week to exclusively discuss the formal planning application for the campus.

Concerns were raised at the virtual gathering about plans to include separate four-court and two-court halls.

There had been hopes for an eight-court facility at the community campus before the application was filed.

On the plans for separate halls, community councillor Rick Kenney said: “After 40 years working in sport I’ve never come across that, I just find it a really odd combination.

“Join it up and make it one six-court hall with sound reducing curtains.”

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Mr Kenney said that he had spoken to PE staff at the school who were in favour of a six-court hall.

He added: “A lot of people are keen to get an eight-court games hall. That would be great as the Borders hasn’t got anywhere that’s got more than four courts so this would be a great addition to the sporting infrastructure, to the school estate, and not just to Gala but to the whole wider community.”

Responding, Steven Renwick, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) project manager, said he would encourage talking about “spaces rather than courts”.

“In the community campus we have a four-court [hall], two-court [hall], gym, dance studio, fitness suite. There are a range of spaces which can allow for a wide variety of functions and activities.”

He told the meeting that a fixed wall between the courts would allow for concurrent use, although replacing it with a curtain in the final design would be “relatively easy”.

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But Mr Renwick said the council could not support calls for an eight-court facility due to the “site constraints, user profile and the demand that is being forecasted”.

He added that it was SBC’s intention “to move away” from the Queens Leisure Centre – which has four courts – as a facility in the town when the community campus opens.

On the blow to hopes for an eight-court hall, community councillor Marion Romeril said she was “worried that we’re going down the wrong route”.

“We’ve held national tournaments which require two halls and we could do it by using the Academy and the Queens Centre,” she said. “If we can have two four-court halls, or that equivalent space, we can hold national tournaments.

“We’re losing out if we don’t have this hall space.”

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Community councillor Bill White said that an eight-court facility would allow the Borders to compete with other areas.

He said: “I’m really keen for Galashiels to be a destination, not only for tourism but for conferences. There’s lots of concerts and exhibitions that we can’t put on in Galashiels because we don’t have a big enough space.”

But Mr Renwick said council chiefs “remain to be convinced that the business cases are robust enough to enhance the court provision”.

Mr Kenney said: “I just feel a little bit disappointed that if we end up with another four-court hall it’s just a new version of what we’ve always had.

“It’s just so short-sighted that we can’t think ahead to 20-30 years down the line. If we don’t do it now we won’t do it again.”