Sir Walter in town regeneration battle

The face of Sir Walter Scott is being drafted in to help in a bid to regenerate Galashiels, it has emerged.

By Paul Kelly
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 9:55 am
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2022, 9:57 am
The wall in Bank Street Close, where a mural of Sir Walter Scott is planned.
The wall in Bank Street Close, where a mural of Sir Walter Scott is planned.

A mural of the famous novelist, poet and historian’s face is to be painted on a wall with the aim of creating a distinctive attraction which helps draw people into the town centre, increases footfall and thereby bolsters retailers and other outlets and attractions.

Planning approval for advertising consent for Energise Galashiels to create a mural featuring his image on a gable wall at 31 Bank Street has been approved by Scottish Borders Council.

But while granting the application, Carlos Clarke, the council’s chief planning officer, expressed uncertainty if the image was in the strictest terms an advertisement – particularly as there was to be no message to be attached to it.

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In a report backing the creation of the mural, on a short-term one-year basis, Mr Clarke says: “The application seeks a one year advertisement consent for a painted mural of Sir Walter Scott on the stone gable of an unlisted building located within the Conservation Area.

“The advertising purpose of Sir Walter Scott in this location was unclear, not least since the proposal has no message – indeed, it is not clear it is an ‘advertisement’ at all.

“Unlike signage granted for other ‘Tapestry Way’ signs elsewhere in the town, of which there are three, this proposal is not on Tapestry Way and its advertising purpose is, therefore, not so obvious.

“The agent has, however, clarified that it is to help create footfall around the town centre, and this location forms part of the ‘loop’.”

There is already a plaque commemorating Sir Walter on the building opposite.

The report adds: “As a short-term display for only one year, the proposal is also acceptable as regards its visual impact on the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, given it is on a secondary wall with only minimal exposure to Bank Street.”

Discussions have also taken place on how paintwork could be applied and removed without damaging the stonework.