Plans for the £10m Borders Gateway development at Tweedbank continue to divide opinion in Melrose despite one town councillor pledging his backing.
The proposed development of a 70-bedroom Premier Inn, BP filling station, Costa drive-through coffee shop and Marks and Spencer food kiosk is expected to create up to 80 jobs.
From the off, members of Melrose Community Council have been concerned over the impact those new businesses would have on hotels and B&Bs in Melrose.
However, coming around to the idea Graham Barker told its meeting last week: “I think that it would be a missed opportunity if this didn’t go ahead because I think the hotel will attract people to this area.
“I don’t believe it will affect all the hotels in Melrose as it will be a different type of clientele that will go to this particular franchise.
“I fear if we don’t look at the hotel favourably, we are going to miss an opportunity to attract people not just to Melrose but to the Borders.”
However, fellow community councillor Tom Douglas argued: “These hotels are only successful because they are haemorrhaging money from whatever community they set up in.
“These economics are very delicate in places like Melrose.”
Developer Newland Aspects last month submitted revised plans to Scottish Borders Council after dropping a food store from the development.
Melrose and Leaderdale councillor David Parker, also convener for Scottish Borders Council, says there’s no reason the development shouldn’t now go ahead.
Mr Parker said: “The Borders Gateway has the overwhelming support of the public and many businesses in the area, and now that the food retail plans have been dropped, there is no reason why these proposals should not be fully endorsed by the planners and backed by Scottish Borders Council.
“The economic advantages of this proposal significantly outweigh the very small number of policy considerations which are left.
“Although it was right for the planners to raise concerns about the previous proposal, now that the developer has listened carefully to all the objections and amended the plans accordingly to deal with them, the Borders public simply won’t understand why the council isn’t backing this ambitious inward investment opportunity.
“It will help bring new jobs and secure existing jobs and undoubtedly lead to a tourism boost in the Borders.”
The community council agreed to submit a mixed response to the plans to the regional council’s planning department.