Hopes for new health centre on old school site are fading

FUTURE use of the old Eyemouth High School building and grounds has been under discussion by the local community and now that people's views have been heard Scottish Borders Council has drawn up a planning brief for the site which was approved by the council's planning committee this week.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 16th June 2010, 4:15 pm

Part of the school building will be retained, some of it for use by the adjoining Eyemouth Primary School, the rest being available for community use, social services, dentist, Citizens Advice Bureau, Customer First and the Registrar. The rest of the building will be demolished and the outside space will be used for: up to 90 houses; a multi-purpose open space of around 1200sq.m as near to the primary school as possible; and possibly an extension to the existing allotments.

Relocation of the town's health centre to the old high school site was top of the agenda for many of those responding to the public consultation but while Scottish Borders Council is prepared to discuss such a move with NHS Borders, it looks as if lack of time and money will make it a none starter.

Calum Campbell, chief executive of NHS Borders responded: "Under our capital plan, NHS Borders is committed to delivering three new health centres in Lauder, Galashiels and Jedburgh. We are also currently working with the Eyemouth Medical Practice to see how we can maximise the space available for the services it currently provides.

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"However, given the current financial climate, this will be on, or in addition to, the site of the current facility. Our aim is to ensure that facilities are fit-for-purpose and provide modern, efficient and high quality health care for patients and accommodation for staff."

While Scottish Borders Council is willing to discuss the matter with NHS Borders they make it clear that "the council would need to be approached within a three month period in order to ensure there is no hold up of the sale of this development site".

Comments from Eyemouth Medical Practice and other individuals during the consultation process about the old high school show there is strong support locally for the health centre to re-locate onto the school site.

The medical practice statement reads: "The current health centre is becoming over-crowded and there is pressure on rooms as the variety of services provided in the community rises in response to Eyemouth's increasing population and changing demography, the earlier discharge of patients with more complex needs, planned bed reductions at the BGH and Knoll Hospital, the increased expectation of local provision of services and increasing numbers of staff, plans for changing housing formats in provision for housing for older people and those with dementia, and the need for rebuilding of one sheltered housing complex in Eyemouth in the near future to name but a few issues.

"The existing health centre was built in 1982 and has had refurbishment and extension work since but there is now no scope for further expansion of the existing building complex.

"The health needs of the Eyemouth community must be considered in light of the above points. The co-location of the health centre, sheltered housing, social work, dentistry, children's services and other sectors would help the integration of services currently provided, promote a long term multi-sectoral view of needs and management of health, housing and social issues in Eyemouth and simplify future planning.

"The project requires a long term perspective financially and logistically, with input from a variety of departments.

A planning application for allotments at Gunsgreen, near the new high school building, was submitted to Scottish Borders Council last week by Eyemouth Allotment Society who propose leasing the land from the council. And if this alternative plan for allotments gets the go-ahead it will leave more room at the old high school site for development and a financial contribution for the provision of the allotments on the Gunsgreen site would be expected by any future developer.

The allotment society has 40 members and a waiting list to join and they propose to manage and maintain the allotments which will be securely fenced, with a locked gate.