Hawick lands £1.3m conservation area scheme payout

Hawick High Street.
Hawick High Street.

A bid to launch a conservation area regeneration scheme in Hawick has been given the thumbs-up by Historic Environment Scotland.

Its handout of £1.3m is the biggest being awarded by the government agency as part of this latest £4.4m round of funding, and it’s earmarked for conserving and enhancing historic town centre buildings, addressing issues affecting key priority properties and encouraging general repairs to be made to others.

Scottish Borders Council is chipping in almost £160,000 on top of that to the kitty for the scheme, and further public-sector contributions are being sought.

Three other towns are in line for conservation area cash this time round.

Inverkeithing in Fife is getting £1m, Lochgilphead in Argyll and Bute almost £970,000 and Mauchline in East Ayrshire £1.1m.

Further details of the scheme and grant funding opportunities will be revealed in due course.

Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, the authority’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “I am delighted that we have been successful in our application for funding for a conservation area regeneration scheme in Hawick, and I’d like to commend the Hawick community for working with our officers to develop this ambitious proposal.

“This project was a key component of the Hawick action plan that a range of partners helped to develop and which has now helped attract over £5m of external funding.

“This project, along with other investments in the town, such as the redevelopment of the former Almstrong’s site, the new Galalaw business units and the centre of excellence in textiles, will help provide a catalyst for wider regeneration and investment from the private sector.”

Hawick’s conservation area regeneration scheme will be the fourth in the Borders, following on from those for Kelso and Selkirk and one still ongoing in Jedburgh.

Community groups including Hawick Community Council, Future Hawick and the town’s archaeological society, along with councillors, all helped put together its bid for money from the eighth competitive round of such funding from Historic Environment Scotland.

Among the main aims of the scheme will be raising awareness of Hawick’s history and heritage and running a programme of skills and employment training in traditional construction skills.

Agency chairperson Jane Ryder said: “Our ambition is to provide more ways for people who live and work in Scotland to benefit from all of our historic environment, and our grants schemes are an important part of this.

“One of the great merits of the conservation area regeneration scheme is that it is locally led and allows local authorities to invest in priority properties they have identified and help communities to unlock the potential of their historic assets.

“As well as investing in conservation projects worthwhile in their own right, additional benefits range from encouraging tourism to supporting local skills training and the creation of new businesses.”

Scottish Government culture, tourism and external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “Now in its 11th year, the conservation area regeneration sheme has led to the repair and restoration of local heritage in towns across Scotland and, in doing so, contributes to their social fabric and community cohesion.

“It also boosts the economy as the funding supports local businesses in carrying out repairs and improvements.”