The completion of the demolition of the old Poundstretcher store in Galashiels has cleared the way for a regeneration of the town centre costing millions of pounds.
The old Poundstretcher is making way for a £6.7m visitor centre for the Great Tapestry of Scotland also occupying the former post office next door in Channel Street.
That is just one of the improvements being lined up for the town, however, with streetscape works costing £900,000 being among the others.
The Great Tapestry of Scotland complex is being billed by Scottish Borders Council chiefs as a catalyst for the regeneration of Galashiels.
Consultants predict that it will attract more than 50,000 people to Galashiels a year after it opens in 2020, creating 16 jobs and generating almost £900,000 of extra spending annually, supporting a further 17 jobs.
Members of the council’s executive will be asked at their meeting tomorrow to approve five streetscape projects being paid for by a Scottish Government regeneration capital grant fund.
They include improvements to Channel Street, Douglas Bridge, visitor signage and the creation of a trail inspired by Galashiels weaver Robert Coltart, writer of the folk song Ally Bally Bee.
Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, the council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “This is a hugely exciting time for Galashiels and the Borders, with significant progress now being made on the Great Tapestry of Scotland complex, which will kickstart the delivery of the Galashiels masterplan.
“A partnership approach is being used to take forward the project, highlighted by the fact that the proposed streetscape improvements have all been identified as priorities by a range of community and business groups.
“The removal of the old Poundstretcher building is a significant milestone, and we will continue to work closely with our partners including community, education, arts and tourism organisations to ensure this exciting project - as the first stage of the masterplan helps to re-shape the town and encourage investment in Galashiels and the wider Borders economy.”
The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre is expected to open in spring 2020 and will be managed by Live Borders, the region’s culture and sports trust.
Its forthcoming arrival has been welcomed by Mike Gray, chairman of the Energise Galashiels trust
“It is great seeing another step being taken in our town centre’s regeneration,” he said.
“This investment – along with the efforts being made by the business improvement district steering group, the support for the Coulter Candy trail and the work being done by several community groups and organisations with the Gala Remembers 2018 partnership, shows just how much energy and enthusiasm there is to develop Galashiels as a vibrant visitor destination.”
Tapestry trustee Alistair Moffat added: “The Great Tapestry of Scotland is a national treasure that tells Scotland’s story in vivid colours and images.
“It will shine like a jewel not only at the heart of Galashiels’ regeneration but also attract thousands to come to the Borders or stop to discover more about our history on their way north.
“The building to house it is beautiful, and its innovative design will mark a turning moment in Galashiels’ story, a time when the centre of the town began to thrive and bustle once more.”