Regeneration bid set to yield £1m boost for Jedburgh town centre

Port House in Exchange Street in Jedburgh.
Port House in Exchange Street in Jedburgh.

Jedburgh could be in line for a £1m boost if plans being drawn up for a conservation initiative are successful.

Scottish Borders Council is holding talks with community groups in Jedburgh with a view to bidding for funding to set up a conservation area regeneration Scheme (CARS) in the town.

CARS is a funding programme run by Historic Environment Scotland to encourage conservation and regeneration of town centres.

Much of Jedburgh is designated as a conservation area, and it is estimated that the regeneration scheme envisaged could secure funding of around £1m, a tenth of the kitty available, over a five-year period. That could pay for conservation-based building repairs to be carried out and for educational activities to be run.

Among the suggested repair projects under consideration as part of the proposed scheme are ones to the category A-listed Port House building owned by Jedburgh Community Trust, the abbey ramparts and Canongate Bridge.

Talks between council officers, other interested parties and community groups in Jedburgh are already under way, and there are now plans to set up a working group to develop a draft proposal ready to submit a funding bid to Historic Environment Scotland by the end of next month.

If that bid is successful, the scheme would run from 1 April next year to March 2022.

A full-time project officer would be recruited to collaborate with the working group and community groups to put the plans into action. Two other such schemes in the Borders have proved successful.

Kelso’s townscape heritage initiative, partly funded by CARS and overseen by the council and partners, won a national planning award. It oversaw major improvements to eight priority buildings and repairs to a further 30-plus.

A £2m streetscape scheme was also carried out, along with the development of business space in a gap site and a school education programme.

The ongoing Selkirk CARS programme is also funding building repairs and streetscape works.

The council’s executive member for planning and environment, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Ron Smith, said: “As we have seen with the successful Kelso scheme, the funding, including that leveraged from the private sector, can make a significant positive impact on a town, with a muc- improved town centre and retail vacancy rates significantly reduced, and I wish the same success for Jedburgh.

“This partnership approach has also helped to stimulate the private sector in Kelso, and we now have a very proactive chamber of trade working together to promote the town and encourage new visitors to stay and spend.”

Jedburgh councillors Jim Brown, Sandy Scott and Rory Stewart are backing the bid, and they have issued a joint statement saying: “Following the success of the Kelso scheme, we welcome the opportunity to bid for additional funding for Jedburgh’s historic town centre.

“The town is an important gateway to Scotland, and we are keen to encourage new spend and investment in the town to ensure Jedburgh remains a key visitor destination.”

Historic Environment Scotland has an overall budget of £10m for this round of CARS funding, with bids expected from towns across Scotland.