Appeal sparks new hope for Tweedbank soft play plans

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A Borders firm is to take its rejected bid to develop a partly vacant factory unit to the council’s local review body.

Proposals to convert the partly vacant former Barbour unit at Tweedside Park, Tweedbank into a gym, cafe and soft-play area, creating eight jobs, were submitted by Melrose-based JSC Properties in the spring.

But Socottish Borders Council threw out the plans last month, claiming that the proposals would “undermine aspirations to develop a high-quality business park” on the land, currently set aside for employment use in the local development plan,

The decision was met with disappointment from the applicant and Borderers alike and this week the JSC Properties has appealed against last month’s decision by planning chiefs.

A spokeswoman for Ferguson Planning, JSC Properties’ agent, said the decision was “buoyed by public support.”

“The applicant continues to believe that there is a lack of indoor play facilities within central Borders,” she said. “The council has suggested that there may be appropriate sites elsewhere but none have been brought forward that are of a comparable scale or purpose.

“Some people already choose to travel to Edinburgh for similar facilities however this option is not practicable or possible for many in the Borders. This proposal would have filled a gap and played its part in terms of inward economic investment to the Tweedbank Gateway.”

Currently 60% of the building is already occupied with businesses. The proposed new facility would take up just under one-fifth of the floor area of the unit, of which some parts have lain vacant since 2014.

“This would not have detrimentally impacted the supply of employment land and buildings in the area, of which there is a significant surplus,” the spokeswoman added. “Rather, it would have bolstered economic regeneration of the area and provided a complimentary service for those that work and live in the central Borders area.

“The existing business occupants would be unaffected and the proposal is simply aimed at filling long-standing vacant space.”

The appeal will go before the review body next month.

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