Revamp of Hawick track looks to be a racing certainty

Hawick councillor George Turnbull at St Leonard's Racecourse.
Hawick councillor George Turnbull at St Leonard's Racecourse.

The odds are looking good for a major revamp to be carried out at St Leonard’s Park Racecourse in Hawick.

A joint application was submitted this week by Hawick’s common good fund and common riding committee to provide new accommodation on the town moor site to replace and supplement its existing facilities.

The plans include a new room for use by the common riding committee, plus new public toilets, a jockeys’ changing room, weighing room and stewards’ room.

These facilities already exist but are considered to be past their sell-by date , besides being scattered around several buildings on the site.

It is anticipated that a number of the existing sub-standard structures would be removed on completion of the proposed project.

Due to the limited use of the facility, it is intended that the building will be of basic construction of an agricultural form, with concrete strip foundations, concrete floor and concrete block external walls and internal partitions.

The site to be redeveloped is located within the current paddock area of the racecourse and immediately south of the existing service road.

The new facility will principally be used during the annual common riding weekend in early June and for four or five race meetings to be held over the course of the summer.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull, chairman of the common good fund, described the project as “very exciting”, adding: “Some of the old buildings there are past their sell-by-date.

“Fortunately, the Hawick Common Riding Committee is in a good financial position and is donating £125,000 to the common good fund to manage the construction of these new agricultural buildings, including new male and female toilets, which will reduce the cost of providing portable loos.

“The longer-term plans are to provide other events on the moor and to rent out the buildings to provide a new income stream.”

Scottish Borders Council has recommended approval of the application, with the full cost of getting the new building up and running being estimated at between £150,000 and £170,000.

The report says: “This new facility will reduce the fragmented nature of buildings on the site by housing much of the accommodation under one roof.

“The building will provide improved accommodation for both members of the public and common riding officials and will provide a focal point for activities on the site.

“The removal of the modular toilet building and the rationalisation of the masonry-constructed buildings will enhance the visual impact of the site.

“It is therefore recommended that approval be granted to allow the provision of this new facility, thereby improving facilities and the visual impact of the site.”

The report adds: “On completion of the new facility, it is anticipated that several of the current structures on the site will be removed, particularly the cabin-type toilet units.

“This will ultimately reduce the disparate nature of the building on the site.”

There is no mains electricity supply to the site, and it is anticipated that a portable generator will be provided on the days that the facility is operational.

The application also takes into account that the site is predominantly used for farming the majority of the year, with the report adding: “There will be minimal soft landscaping to the new facility due to the fact that it is used as sheep grazing for a large part of the year.

“Hard landscaping will take the form of perimeter paving to the building, providing level access at all doors.

“Hard landscaping will also be provided adjacent to the new facility as vehicle parking.”