Duke sees a key role in sustaining new railway

The Duke of Buccleuch opens the refurbished Tollbooth at 176-180 High Street, Dalkeith
The Duke of Buccleuch opens the refurbished Tollbooth at 176-180 High Street, Dalkeith

The creation of a new community at Shawfair on the route of the Borders railway is being spearheaded by a multi-faceted local company.

Buccleuch Property is part of the Buccleuch Estates Ltd group, which has a head office at Bowhill, near Selkirk.

Business interests include farming, leisure, energy generation, tourism and commercial developments.

In 2011 it joined forces with housebuilder Mactaggart & Mickel to acquire 350 acres of land from the City of Edinburgh and Midlothian councils for an upfront £6million in a profit-sharing deal expected to yield around £20million over 15 years.

With consent for 4,000 houses, the vision includes a million square feet of commercial development capable of supporting 6,000 jobs along with three new schools – all taking advantage of the new Shawfair railway station.

The development – considered fundamental to the business case for the entire line – was enthusiastically greeted during a Buccleuch presentation to business leaders in Newtowngrange last week.

The firm also highlighted work to transform its Dalkeith Country Park, where new cafes and a large adventure play area are under construction.

Around 200,000 people, many using the train, are expected annually to visit the attraction, which will have a new entrance near Sheriffhall.

As chairman of the board of directors of Buccleuch Estates Ltd, the duke predicted further opportunities for land receipts and profit for the group from the Shawfair project.

In a report accompanying the group’s consolidated accounts for the year to October 31, 2014, the duke reported net asset growth of £9million to £123million and debt reduction of £13million to £137million. On an increased turnover of £49.8million (up from £43.1million), the group achieved a net profit, after tax, of £388,000.

The group has 245 full-time and 97 part-time employees. Staff costs topped £13.6million over the year.

The duke said: “Despite the difficult political climate in Scotland, the business is well-positioned to deliver on some exciting opportunities which will make a significant contribution to business and the communities in which we operate.”