Great Britain

Plans for inflatable pitch at top Scottish private school vetoed after fears it will lower house prices

The 'air-supported dome' all-weather pitch, proposed by St Mary's School in Melrose, Scottish Borders, would be the size of four tennis courts. Picture: Stuart Colby
The 'air-supported dome' all-weather pitch, proposed by St Mary's School in Melrose, Scottish Borders, would be the size of four tennis courts. Picture: Stuart Colby

Plans for an inflatable football pitch at a top private school have been vetoed by neighbours who fear it will ruin tranquility around Melrose Abbey and sink house prices.

The 'air-supported dome' all-weather pitch, proposed by St Mary's School in Melrose, Scottish Borders, would be the size of four tennis courts and resembles the training facility at St Mirren FC, Renfrewshire.

An application has been lodged with Scottish Borders Council by the co-ed school which charges £5,600-a-term and has both day and boarding pupils.

But residents are worried it will spoil the peaceful countryside, and knock off around £70,000 off the value of a house.

Wendy Morrall, who has lived in Melrose for 18 years, said: "I enjoy watching the kids play sport on the field, but at night it's black and so quiet we can hear the river.

"When the compressor is on 24 hours a day, that's the only thing you will hear, no matter how they try to mask the noise.

"We will lose the light during the day as well.

"We are south-facing, and there will just be a huge shadow across the back garden.

"We've talked to friends who live in other parts of Melrose and they are horrified."

Her husband, Rob Morrall, added: "It's a completely inappropriate structure in a natural beauty spot, especially with its proximity to Melrose Abbey.

"It will affect tourism and make a mess of the whole area."

The couple's next door neighbour, Les Ainslie, 83, said: "I simply won't want to live there any longer.

"I've had the house assessed, and it seems that I will lose £70,000 because of this inflatable pitch."

The widower previously described it as 'a blot on the landscape'.

He added: "Who the hell would even think about buying my house with that outside?".

Chairman of Melrose Community Council, William Windram, said: "The school has said it would be valuable for the community, but I am unsure of any club which said they need this."

Headteacher Liam Harvey said: "Following a series of consultations, the school has now submitted a formal planning application for the construction of a new covered sports facility on its existing playing fields.

"The school is extremely mindful of its setting within the historic town of Melrose and, if approved, we hope the new facilities can be a great asset to the local community."