Scottish Borders Council

Agenda item

Chambers Institution.

Presentation – Scottish Historic Buildings Trust.


Una Richards, Director and Audrey Dakin, Project Officer, Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT)  were in attendance.   Mrs Richards gave background information relating to SHBT whose aim was to save important historic buildings and bring them back into use in support of communities.    Mrs Dakin advised that Scottish Borders Council had asked SHBT to undertake a community consultation exercise to understand how the people of Peebles and the Borders currently used the Chambers Institution as well as learning how they might wish to use the building in the future.  The questionnaire was the first stage in the process, the aim of which was to identify a potential draft vision for the building.  The next stage would be stakeholder workshops followed by wider consultation.    The survey could be completed on-line at     Mrs Dakin explained the work which had taken place to date and gave feedback on specific points coming out of the community consultation process.    Following the consultation, findings would be presented as a report which would set out options for the future service delivery/uses for the building and it was the aim of SHBT to seek a potential draft Vision for the building.  The key to the   starting point for the community consultation were the terms of William Chambers’ bequest.   It was a condition of the bequest that the building should deliver the social, moral and intellectual improvement of the Peeblesshire community in perpetuity, and the key question was to ask the community to consider William Chambers’ vision for the building and whether it was still applicable in the 21st century.  It was clear from the consultation process the affection for the iconic premises and the high value local people placed on its continuing operation.   SHBT recognised the proximity of other buildings in the town, particularly the Community Centre (Drill Hall) and the Eastgate Theatre, where there was the possibility of duplicating provision and the need to ensure that each provided complementary facilities.   Almost 90% of respondents to the questionnaire considered the Chambers Institution very important to the history of Peebles; no-one considered the building unimportant.  Mrs Dakin advised on suggestions received so far and gave statistical information relating to use of different parts of the building.  During the discussions which followed concerns regarding duplicity with the Eastgate Theatre and the Community Centre were expressed.   In response to questions raised regarding engagement with the younger population, Mrs Dakin advised that SHBT employed a learning officer and it was hoped to engage with primary schools through the curriculum for excellence; engagement had started with Head Teachers.   In relation to youths, engagement might take place with Peebles High School or through some of the youth groups.  In discussing widening the stakeholder consultation suggestions were made that this could be done using electronic media and face book pages through survey monkey.    Mrs Dakin advised she was happy to visit Community Councils in the area if invited to do so.



(a)     NOTED the presentation.

(b)     THANKED Mrs Richards and Mrs Dakin for their informative presentation.





Scottish Borders Council

Council Headquarters Newtown St. Boswells Melrose TD6 0SA

Tel: 0300 100 1800


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