Melrose hoteliers and community councillors objecting to plans for Premier Inn at Tweedbank

How the Borders Gateway development being planned at Tweedbank by New Land Assets would look.
How the Borders Gateway development being planned at Tweedbank by New Land Assets would look.

Hoteliers in Melrose are opposing plans to build a 70-bedroom Premier Inn at nearby Tweedbank as they fear it could hit their trade.

An agent acting for five Melrose hotels has lodged a formal objection to the £12m Borders Gateway being lined up by Edinburgh developer New Land Assets for a site next to Tweedbank railway station.

Philip Neaves, a consultant working for fellow Edinburgh firm Felsham Planning and Development, is objecting on behalf of Burt’s Hotel, the Townhouse, the George and Abbotsford, the King’s Arms Hotel and the Station Hotel.

In a written submission to Scottish Borders Council planners, he says: “Town centres are under threat, and their vitality and viability needs to be protected.

“The nature of Melrose town centre is a material consideration in assessing this proposal.

“The vitality and viability of Melrose depends on wider considerations than retail.

“That vitality and viability will be undermined by a larger hotel than envisaged, accompanied by ancillary development.

“Melrose is an important centre. It serves the needs and wants of diverse resident, working and tourist populations.

“A result of these characteristics is that a cafe culture has developed which means that the characteristics of Melrose are recognised to be unique.

“That should not be undermined by unforeseen and unplanned expansion of the hotel element of the special planning zone.

“High street shops rely on footfall, and the key to success is dwell-time-providing attractions that will keep people in the shopping street as long as possible and blending retail and other attractions.

“The range of support features is increasingly what makes people visit a centre, not the retail.

“Melrose sets a standard of how town centres should develop and we would urge your council not to grant consent for a development that could undermine the vitality and viability of the town centre by having a significant impact on the hotel sector.”

Melrose Community Council has also sent in an objection citing similar concerns.

A spokesperson for the community council says: “This proposal contravenes planning policy as it is placing this development on land retained for commercial business. The council must stand by this and support already-established businesses.

“We in Melrose still need to support what is one of the few still-vibrant high streets in the Borders. Most of our high street shops are occupied and open for business.

“It is easier to retain a high street environment than try to regenerate a one, as the council is finding throughout the Borders, with fringe developments sucking the life out of high streets.

“At present, we have five hotels and numerous guesthouses and bed-and-breakfast facilities which all fight for a share of an uncertain market.

“There is also a feeling that a four-storey hotel is far too high for this location in Tweedbank as there is nothing else this height within the surrounding area.”