AN OLYMPIAN and a Scottish athletics champion are among a host of objectors to current plans for a new high school in Peebles.

A planning application for the £46 million development was recently submitted to Scottish Borders Council (SBC).

But concerns have been raised by local coaches Linda and Gregor Nicholson that the proposed athletics provision would be “inadequate”.

And their calls for better facilities have received the support of two of Tweeddale's best ever athletes – Olympian Chris O'Hare and multiple Scottish champion Stacey Downie.

On the proposals, Linda, who was awarded a BEM for services to sport in 2016, said: "With only one pit, long jump technical training invariably has to be undertaken into the prevailing wind, thereby never replicating conditions under which competitions are always held which is always with the prevailing wind.

“And high jump training is limited to taking place indoors in a gym hall, when one is available, usually with a restricted run-up and in trainers rather than spikes."

The new design for Peebles High School. Photo: SBCLinda Nicholson (left) highlighted issues with the proposed athletics facilities. Photo: Archive

According to SBC papers, there is currently a 100m running track, long jump runway and an all weather pitch, as well as sports fields at the school.

These will be “relocated/replaced and developed as new elements” as part of the overall site design of the new Peebles High, the papers add.

In a comment objecting to the plans, the Nicholsons outlined their desire for a second long jump pit, a throws circle and a ‘multi-use games area’ – which can be used for high jump, javelin run-up and can accommodate a running curve for training repetitions of 150m.

They said the size of the school roll and Peebles’ distance from the nearest full athletics facility at Tweedbank were reasons for enhanced provision compared to other Borders secondary schools.

The Nicholsons also pointed to the high levels of achievement with a total of 168 individual medals won at National Championship level by athletes attending or training at Peebles High since 2014 – when the existing 100m sprint track and long jump runway were built.

Gregor, a former Tweeddale Coach of the Year, said: "We hope that the powers-that-be will recognise that athletics is deserving of better facilities and ensure a provision which can contribute to improving progress and achievement in athletics at Peebles High School and in the Tweeddale community."

In his objection, O’Hare said that a lack of facilities at Peebles High when he was at the school meant that he had to travel to Meadowbank four times a week.

The new design for Peebles High School. Photo: SBCOlympian Chris O'Hare shared that a 'lack of facilities' forced him to travel out of Peebles for training. Photo: Archive (2017)

Meanwhile, Downie said that as a youngster she was forced to train on grass at Whitestone Park or at the football pitch in Innerleithen, relying on car lights to see during the winter.

The former pupil and teacher at the high school added: “I am well aware of the constraints on local athletes to be competitive at national level due to the lack of athletics facilities.

“The proposals put forward by you [SBC], and to which Gregor and Linda Nicholson object to, would be a serious setback for local athletes and present a significant obstacle to their development or to attract new athletes to the sport.”

The new design for Peebles High School. Photo: SBCLocal athlete and former Peebles High School pupil Stacey Downie said the proposed facilities would be a 'setback' for local athletes. Photo: Bobby Gavin

Last month, Campbell Wilson, rector at Peebles High School, said he was “extremely excited” about the plans.

“A state-of-the-art campus will undoubtedly improve the reputation of the school and its role in the wider community,” he said. “Peebles is a thriving town with a growing population.”

He added: “Our young people are amazing and a new school will be just reward for triumphing in the face of adversity.”

Scottish Borders Council was approached for a comment.