Fears being voiced that lockdown hold-up could wipe McDonald’s bid off menu for Hawick
Approval for the long-awaited fast-food outlet in the town’s Commercial Road was granted by Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee in January.
However, an objection by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) on the grounds of potential flood risk means the delay-beset proposals also have to be agreed by Scottish ministers.
Officials representing the government agency are unable to access the development site to carry out necessary tests in person due to current social distancing rules, however.
In a bid to overcome that problem, the developer involved, Edinburgh-based Image Estates Queen Street, has offered to utilise technology to enable government officials to carry out scrutiny remotely.
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer is urged the Scottish Government to take up that offer to enable a decision to be made sooner on the future of the former Bruce Motors site, also earmarked to host a new B&M store to replace the current one in Croft Road.
Mr McAteer said: “I have serious concerns for the future of a number of Hawick construction projects though, of course, the primary concern at this time is the health and wellbeing of Hawick folk and those in the local community.
“Commercial developments including the McDonald’s and B&M stores proposed for Commercial Road are being additionally challenged because the Scottish Government has halted progress to consider the flood risk objection lodged by SEPA.
“Normally an official would visit the site and thereafter make a recommendation. However, that process has been halted for social distancing reasons.
“I know the developer is trying its very best to keep these developments, and what would be much-needed jobs, alive and has offered to use technology to film the site and surrounding area to help a decision to be made.
“This is an innovative and helpful approach at this unprecedented time, and I would hope that the Scottish Government reacts favourably and moves this project forward.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall agrees that construction projects such as those currently on hold in Commercial Road could prove crucial to helping revive Scotland’s economy once it finally emerges from lockdown.
He said: “First and foremost, we need to get rid of this terrible virus that is wreaking havoc within our communities.
“My thoughts are firmly with those who have lost loved ones and for those who are suffering in hospital at the moment.
“The quicker we get this killer virus eradicated the sooner we can start to rebuild our economy and start planning again timescales to get key projects within our town back on track.”