Society reveals bid for caravan site in Borders

A struggling agricultural society has revealed plans for converting a showground in Kelso into an attractive destination for staycationers.

By Paul Kelly
Monday, 18th January 2021, 11:18 am
Border Union Agricultural Show. Springwood Park, Kelso.
Border Union Agricultural Show. Springwood Park, Kelso.

Based in the town’s Springwood Park the Border Union Agricultural Society (BUAS) usually stages four annual events - an educational schools day, a championship dog show, two agricultural shows and a world-renowned ram sales.

Its 1,000 square metre Borders Events Centre also facilitates numerous year-round indoor and outdoor events.

But the long-term future of the society has been placed in jeopardy over the last ten months.

Since mid-March and the onset of the first Covid-19 lockdown there have been virtually no events on the site.

Now the BUAS, which was instituted in 1813, has had to carry out a major restructuring to severely reduce its overheads and ensure its survival beyond the pandemic.

It has submitted an application to Scottish Borders Council planners to obtain a certificate to use Springwood Park showground as a site for touring caravans/motorhomes.

There is a precedent for the bid as caravans have been able to park up there in the past for up to two weeks at a time - but only when events are being staged.

The aim now is to allow the vehicles to stay at the site outside of the periods when those events are held.

A spokesperson for the society said the move was necessary to safeguard the financial viability of the society and to meet the growing demand for staycations.

He added: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, current overseas travel restrictions and a resurgence for holidaying in the UK we feel there is an immediate need in the Kelso area to provide a location where visitors in the confines of their own self-isolated security can come and stay.

“Springwood is ideally placed and equipped to provide this facility. It has the necessary effluent and waste drainage capacity and power hook-ups due to the site’s event use.

“Economically this will help support the local Kelso economy and the wider Borders business community whilst helping to ensure the survival and viability of BUAS, who would all collectively benefit from the numerous activities at Springwood Park.”

The planning application has been submitted by Colin McGregor.

In a statement to the committee Mr McGregor adds: “For more than ten years the Border Union Agricultural Society has sited touring caravans during certain periods of the year, in line with the events being held in the showground.

“The existing use of the showground to site touring caravans/motorhomes is directly related to the timing of events held at Springwood Park, for example a maximum of two weeks of siting of the caravans for the dog show, which is held in June, and no caravans are sited until the next event is staged.

“As a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we fell that there is an imminent need in the Kelso area, to provide a safe, socially distanced area for visitors to use and park touring caravans.”

The BUAS was formed at a public meeting in the Cross Keys Inn on January 22, 1813, under the chairmanship of the Duke of Roxburghe. Its patron is the Countess of Wessex.