Farmers have been reassured that a vital auction mart has a bright future as plans are revealed for a major redevelopment of the land surrounding it.
Carlisle-based H&H Group has announced proposals for a hotel, college or training centre, retail, housing and leisure facilities at Newtown St Boswells.
But despite the ambitious plans, farmers have been told that the mart will remain at the heart of the area.
H&H Group acquired the auction and site as part of its acquisition of the John Swan & Son business in 2015.
Located on both sides of the A68 the total area of land owned by the company in Newtown St Boswells is approximately 60 acres, with the mart itself occupying ten.
Brian Richardson, chief executive of H&H, says the mart would remain at its existing location, with new offices and improved and enhanced facilities.
The intention is to invest money in the site, which is “vital to the farming economy of the Scottish Borders”, in order to take it forward as an integrated rural community hub for future generations.
Mr Richardson said: “Since acquiring the business three years ago we have been looking at how we can significantly improve the auction mart facilities, in conjunction with developing the surrounding land we own.
“The mart is both a very important Borders livestock trading centre and a catalyst for Scottish agriculture. Our aim in planning for the future of the site, is to add opportunity and maximise potential in the local economy. This we have achieved successfully at our other livestock market sites with associated rural based businesses being adjacent to the mart.
“We were very clear when we acquired the business about our ongoing and future commitment to farmers in the Borders and the mart in Newtown St Boswells, and this is exactly what we are demonstrating. In addition to upgrading and enhancing the mart facilities, we are looking at a wider development of the adjacent land.
“This will include integrating farm and rural-related activities, education, and industry alongside some housing and retail. By bringing in new businesses and other initiatives to the Borders we are very much looking to enhance Newtown St Boswells, as well as providing jobs in the area.
“I would like to stress that this is a long-term project and we want to get it right. This will be achieved through extensive consultation, ensuring a good mix of development and enhancing the livestock mart which is so important to the prosperity of the farming industry in the area.”
A public consultation event is planned for March 12 at The Canteen off Old Station Court from 2pm to 7pm.
Selkirkshire councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol has a meeting with an H&H representatives next week to go over the plans in person.
She added: “I am looking forward to hearing what they have in their application and seeing how it can be of benefit for the people of Newtown St Boswells.”