A planned £10m investment in Tweedbank has come in for further criticism amid fears it will take up valuable land and put a nail in the coffin of any hopes of a new hotel being opened in Galashiels.
There are concerns that if the Borders Gateway development, including 70-bedroom hotel, goes ahead, land zoned for industrial use will be lost and with it any hope of attracting a large hotel chain to nearby Galashiels.
The plans have divided opinion since they were unveiled last year, and they continue to do so despite developer New Land Assets dropping a food store from the development in a bid to allay exisiting traders’ fears about losing business.
Those revised plans were submitted to Scottish Borders Council in May, and discussing whether Galashiels Community Council should alter its opposing stance in light of the change, member Drew Tully told last Wednesday’s meeting: “I think we should stick to our guns on this.
“I am adamant that it’s wrong to use industrial-zoned land for other purposes.
“I agree with what they have done to Tweedbank in terms of housing development, but I am at a total loss as to why the council sold land there as they lose all control over it.
“Now they are going to use up land set aside for business use and yet there’s alternative land in Tweedbank that could be sold that is actually owned by the council.
“If they are hell-bent on putting a hotel on that area, then why not put it on a piece of council-owned land?”
Fellow councillor Gordon Richardson added: “I would scrap the whole idea all together. It’s only going to benefit other towns.
“It’s going to impact on existing companies.
“The chances of a hotel in Galashiels are zero if it goes ahead at Tweedbank.”
However, Galashiels councillor Harry Scott believes the proposed hotel could actually work in the town’s favour.
“I see a private company seeing a future in the Borders and investing its money here,” he said.
“I still think there’s enough land in Tweedbank for industrial use.
“If Premier Inn goes there, maybe Travelodge will reconsider and come to Galashiels if they see another hotel chain making a go of it.”
Premier Inn had previously ruled out Galashiels as an area of interest, but rival low-cost hotel chain Travelodge said in March it would consider coming to the town should it find a suitable site.
Tom Ingoldsby added: “How many years have we been waiting on this hotel to come to Galashiels?
“It’s obvious they don’t see it as a viable option.
“Premier Inn likes to be near hospitals. They seem to think Tweedbank is a good place to be on a good piece of road.”
Mr Tulley added: “There is no land in Galashiels for development. Our options are practically nil apart form the land down near the college.
“We have continuously exported jobs out of Galashiels to other parts of the Borders.
“Unless we have a land bank, we can’t resolve that.
“We have to have something to offer a developer.”
The proposed development also includes a BP filling station, Costa drive-through coffee shop and Marks and Spencer food kiosk and is expected to create up to 80 jobs.
Bill White warned: “I think the petrol station will put one of the three existing ones out of business.
“They are all running at about 75% capacity and are just ticking over.”