THE name of the redeveloped Burgh Yard in Galashiels should reflect the history of the town, and not be another retail park, a former Scottish Borders Council leader has claimed.
Drew Tulley suggested the name Kirk Croft Yard at June’s meeting of the town’s community council, based on the site’s location beside Croft Street and below Gala Aisle, the only remaining section of the 17th century Parish Kirk.
“This would be more suitable than a fancy name from people outwith our town who do not know the history of Galashiels,” he added, seeming to refer to the recent naming of the bridge between Asda and Tesco after a little-known 19th-century baron bailie George Craig.
Mr Tulley was also opposed to any plans for further shopping in the eastern area of Galashiels, claiming the latest addition, the Gala Water Retail Park, has damaged trade in the hub of the town.
“The last development was a bad move for the town centre,” he told town councillors. “I was one of the few objectors in the town.
“It will be tempting for the council to sell for retail and they will have carrots dangled in front of them.
“But it should be about more than money – the environment of the town centre is important.”
Councillor Ian Purvis agreed, saying he “definitely did not want to see commericial use” on the yard which runs alongside Braw Lads Brae, and which was latterly used by SBC’s parks department.
He favoured accommodation for potential visitors, claiming “There are few hotels in the town and we need to make more use of the Volunteer Hall”.
Mr Tulley, who mooted sheltered housing as a possible option for the one hectare site, added: “I would equally support a hotel, but a site at Tweedbank was marked for a hotel for 20 years and was never taken up.
“I would welcome a hotel but I am not confident it will happen.”
Shops, housing and a hotel were all put forward as possibilities by planners in a guidance document which was approved by councillors ahead of the a 12-week public consultation last month.
But the report added whichever developer takes on the Burgh Yard will have to deal with ground contamination as a result of woollen mill activity dating back to the 19th century, and the decomissioning of a petrol station.
Retail developers would be absolved from cash contributions to local infrastructure and services, although the guidance paper warned more shops “may cause migration of business from the town centre”.
But housing firms would likely have to make contributions towards the railway project and expansions of nearby St Peter’s Primary and Galashiels Academy.