Scottish Borders Council has agreed to progress with plans for an innovation park in Tweedbank after a special meeting held in private last Thursday.
Councillors also unanimously agreed to create the region’s first simplified planning zone. That will allow development to take place more quickly, thanks to a streamlined planning process, potentially making the site more attractive to businesses.
Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, the council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “This is an attractive location with excellent transport links and which benefits from assisted area status, which means businesses can receive grants for eligible business development.”
“Following today’s meeting, the Council will now undertake detailed business cases for the projects and aim to get support from the Borders Railway Blueprint group and Scottish Enterprise to progress these developments, in addition to finalising funds available through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.
That move comes after a 2013 independent report found that commercial office space near the railway terminus could create up to 350 new jobs. As a result, a project to develop new business infrastructure in Tweedbank was included in the Borders Railway blueprint to build on the potential of the line.
The council has already identified capital funds for the project to improve council-owned land there.
It is also proposed that funding from the Edinburgh and south east Scotland city region deal is finalised for the project, with support from Scottish Enterprise and the Borders Railway Blueprint group to be confirmed.
Currently just one high quality modern office premise is immediately available in the central Borders, and there is no modern manufacturing space available. The council is therefore seeking to take a lead role in developing new employment infrastructure to attract inward investment, new jobs to the area, and allow existing local businesses to expand.
“These developments would not only provide new business opportunities but would set the scene for more extensive private sector investment in the vicinity and kick-start the development of an innovation park which would provide an economic hub and many hundreds of new jobs for the area.
“By building on the success of the Borders Railway and maximising its positive impact on the local economy we can strengthen the case for expansion of the railway to Hawick and beyond, and as such this project is not only important for the central Borders but the wider area too.”