Jedburgh is now in line to get a £1m 3G synthetic sports pitch a year ahead of schedule.
Subject to talks with interested parties in the town, preparatory design work on a full-sized all-weather pitch at the Glebe, currently home to junior rugby club Jed-Thistle, could begin this financial year.
All being well, the pitch could then be laid next year or early in 2018.
Jedburgh had been bottom of the pecking order in Scottish Borders Council’s 3G pitch programme – behind Galashiels, which now has a facility at Netherdale; Hawick, for which a contract was recently awarded; and Peebles.
However, last month, the council’s executive agreed to withdraw a planning application for a pitch planned at Victoria Park in Peebles after a concerted protest campaign calling for a rethink about its location.
An action group was formed, and a 1,700-signature petition was raised demanding that the park, off Kingsmeadow Road, be spared.
Tweeddale councillors will now undertake further consultation in a search for an acceptable venue – but Peebles’ temporary loss is Jedburgh’s short-term gain.
“As a result of the delay to the Peebles pitch, the Jedburgh pitch should be brought forward in the programme by a year and be delivered in 2017-18, and the Peebles project should be put back to 2018-19”, Rob Dickson, the council’s corporate services director, told Tuesday’s executive meeting.
He added that, based on the tenders received for the Hawick pitch, the £863,000 allocated for Jedburgh’s in the council’s 2018-19 capital spending plans, was “likely to be insufficient”.
“It is recommended that additional funding will be addressed once the extent of the funding gap is known,” said Mr Dickson.
The acceleration of the Jedburgh pitch project was unanimously approved by councillors.
They instructed council officers to “engage further” with local clubs in Jedburgh, Live Borders and other stakeholders including Historic Scotland, custodian of nearby Jedburgh Abbey, to secure land at the Glebe, located between the A68 Edinburgh-Darlington road and the Jed Water, to host the proposed pitch.
The land is owned by Lothian Estates.
Councillors have previously been warned that having a full-sized 3G artificial pitch built in Peebles within two years was an explicit condition insisted on by national agency Sportscotland when it awarded a £500,000 grant to improve sports facilities at Peebles High School in 2013, as reported in the Southern last week.