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August 31, 2010

Worth the wait

It has been a long hard slog but the final piece in the jigsaw has finally fallen into place for the community of Newlands in the Scottish Borders.  Six years ago, the local primary school was earmarked for closure. It would have been a devastating blow to the surrounding rural community and it stirred the community into action. With an incredible £1.7 million already raised, the school is to be refurbished along with a new state of the art community facility

David O'Leary

PARENTS are rejoicing after their application to build a new £1.7m community centre at Newlands Primary School was given the thumbs up by councillors.

The 86-pupil school at Newlands Primary had been earmarked for closure six years ago but parents fought back forming a community trust, before amassing a considerable warchest to both refurbish the school and build a community hub nearby.

And after four long years of hard graft Newlands Community Development Trust (NCDT) got their just reward at SBC’s planning committee meeting last week.

Once built the facility will comprise a large sports hall, a fully equipped kitchen with dining area, a dedicated nursery, a library, plus adult learning and IT facilities.

Also, the temporary cabin adjacent to the school playground, which is presently used as a classroom, will be removed and in its place a car parking area with associated landscaping will be created alongside the existing community woodland.

The new community centre will have its own entrance and secure access, such that the facility is available for use by both the community and pupils throughout the school day.

Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor George Turnbull, said: “This is a very important milestone for what is an inspirational project.

“The parents and members of the Newlands community have been working tirelessly over several years to make this project a reality and we have been delighted to support them throughout this journey.

“The plans for Newlands will benefit the school and the whole community into the future and I am sure the village can’t wait for the work to start and see their plans come to life.”

Karen Blissitt, chairman of NCDT said “I would like to thank everybody involved with this project for sticking with it and getting it to this stage. It has involved a considerable amount of voluntary work over the last six years by many members of the local community and subsequently by NCDT.”

John Currie, secretary of NCDT said: “We are over the final hurdle and it just remains for our legal teams to finalise the agreements between NCDT, Big Lottery and SBC. It has been a long road but one worth travelling to bring this excellent facility to the community.”