THE budget for the rebuild of Peebles High School has jumped up by £4 million to cover ‘additional costs’.

Initial council plans were slammed by parents of deaf children over “critical flaws” found in the design, while criticisms were also levelled at the proposed assembly and dining areas.

And the parent council’s new build sub group says that further tweaks are needed before work starts on the £50.4m development.

It comes despite Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC) education director, Lesley Munro, saying that there will be “no further design changes” on the project.

Tristan Compton, lead of the group, said: “We will write to SBC to urge them to take on board a small number of design tweaks and ideas, before it’s too late, so that the new Peebles High School represents the very best in school design, for future generations.”

The group met with Ms Munro and SBC’s project manager Stephen Renwick earlier this month and were told that the school design had been changed following engagement events across Peeblesshire.

It will now include a fully-enclosed hall and performance space, with capacity for more than 350, and that the number of open plan classrooms had been reduced from 58 per cent to 27 per cent.

The group welcomed the hard-won improvements to the school’s internal design following a campaign started last October.

“The current plans are a significant improvement on what was proposed in October, and I thank everyone who has taken the time to give their feedback to SBC and to the Parent Council, in recent weeks,” said Mr Compton. “I also want to thank SBC officers for listening to those concerns, and improving the plans as a result of that feedback.

“It’s important that parents and SBC work in partnership to improve decision making and ensure that the school building is the success it needs to be.

“Communication and ongoing consultation need to be prioritised.

“Current pupils are sadly suffering from a school building that’s in poor condition already, and with no appetite to spend anything on maintaining the existing building, this is only set to get worse.

“Any delay to the delivery of the new school must be avoided.”

The project is due to begin in May and is expected to be completed two years later.

The group organised visits to four recently built high-schools across Scotland to see what could be learnt from their designs and experiences.

In a joint statement, John Curry, the council’s director of infrastructure & environment and Lesley Munro, director of education & lifelong learning, said: “Following the feedback received at the engagement sessions held in early February, a number of design changes have been made to floorplans of the new school which reflect significant changes to the physical layout of the plans presented last month.

“We were very pleased to have the opportunity to talk through these changes with representatives from the Parent Council in more detail, which reflect their input and demonstrate how they meet the educational aspirations for the new school.

“The design of this new school is informed by the council’s strategic brief. Alongside this, best practice examples and lessons learned from our previous projects and that of local authorities right across Scotland help to shape and refine proposals.

“Moreover, Scottish Borders Council gain real benefits from the close collaboration and engagement with various key partners particularly the Scottish Futures Trust and Hub South East in developing our school design solutions that seek to support the outcomes of curriculum for excellence and improving outcomes for all young people across the region.

“These updated floorplans will now be carried through to the construction stage, allowing progress to be made on the overall project which will ultimately deliver a world-class educational facility for young people in Peebles.

“The updated plans will be available to view online later this month.”