Business brains invited to give a vision for Tweedbank

Monday August 14th 2023

Tweedbank (SBC)

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

Business brains are being invited to shape the future of a major new industrial and housing development site acquired by Scottish Borders Council more than four years ago.

It was back in 2019 that council bosses revealed that the Lowood Estate near Melrose, on land south of the River Tweed, had been purchased for £9.6m.

The 34-hectare site at Tweedbank has since been earmarked for a mixed development in the council’s Local Development Plan, including housing and industrial use.

The plan is for no short-term development as it is expected the site may take between 20 to 30 years to complete.

Preliminary road access and site clearance works are poised to begin after the the local authority received the green light from its own planning department.

However, the major development has not been without its critics.

Ex-planning chief and former Conservative councillor for Leaderdale and Melrose, Tom Miers, claimed Scottish Borders did not need to buy the land to go-ahead with the plans, which he described as “bland” and “lacking in ambition” at a meeting last year.

Borders SNP MSP Christine Grahame had also reported the council to a public sector watchdog amid concerns over the estate’s purchase back in 2019.

But the local authority has argued that while it would cost an estimated £90m to develop the estate it has the potential to generate £150m for the region’s economy.

Now businesses in the region are being invited to take the vision forward.

An event is being held on Wednesday, August 23, in the Inspire Learning Academy building at Tweedbank Station.

Those attending will be asked to give their thoughts on what the area around the Lowood Estate should contain to allow businesses to grow and flourish.

In particular, there will be a focus on land use, buildings, transport and supporting facilities.

The event is being hosted by SBC, with support from South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), the Federation of Small Business (FSB) and Business Gateway.

Attendees will hear from SBC as well as Fife Council, which have utilised the City Deal to boost its infrastructure.

The event runs from 9am to noon and registration is free but essential as capacity is limited.

Councillor Scott Hamilton, SBC’s executive member for Community and Business Development, said: “This business event is an important step in engaging local and national businesses to help us map out short, medium and long term need for business space and facilities in the Scottish Borders.

“Through ongoing investment, including the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, its extremely accessible location and surrounding business land opportunities, Tweedbank is ideally placed to help deliver what businesses are looking for.

“I’d encourage all those with an interest to book their place and help us capitalise on these opportunities together.”

Registration is available through EventBrite clicking here.

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