Hundreds of homes and and new industrial estate project moves a step closer

A major new Borders industrial estate and housing development site has taken a step closer to reality.

By Paul Kelly
Friday, 8th April 2022, 1:44 pm
Updated Friday, 8th April 2022, 3:09 pm
Lowood.

It was back in 2019 that Scottish Borders Council revealed it had purchased the Lowood Estate, on land south of the River Tweed, for £9.6m.

The 34-hectare site, near Tweedbank, has since been earmarked for a mixed development in the council's Local Development Plan, including housing and industrial use.

The plan is for no short-term development as it is expected the site may take between 20 to 30 years to complete.

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Now preliminary works are poised to begin after the the local authority submitted an application to its own planning department.

The bid seeks go-ahead for road access and site clearance.

Specifically approval is sought for construction of the first and second phase of the road infrastructure to facilitate the estate's development. The proposals include earthworks, initial development platforming, drainage, footways, landscaping and planting works.

The development has not been without its critics.

Ex-planning chief and outgoing Conservative representative for Leaderdale and Melrose, Tom Miers, claimed Scottish Borders did not need to buy the land to go-ahead with the plans, which he described as "bland" and lacking in ambition at a meeting last year.

Borders SNP MSP Christine Grahame had also reported the council to a public sector watchdog amid concerns over the estate's purchase back in 2019.

But the local authority has argued that while it would cost an estimated £90m to develop the estate it has the potential to generate £150m for the region's economy.

Speaking in June last year, Conservative councillor and now council leader Mark Rowley said: "The purchase of the Lowood Estate is absolutely integral to what we're doing there. It is utterly right we took the strategic decision to take ownership of this site. With ownership comes control."