Suggestions that buses set to ferry tourists to and from a forthcoming tourist attraction in Galashiels might take over one of the town’s public car parks have sparked resistance from community councillors.
The £6.7m home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland at the former Poundstretcher site in High Street and the old post office next door in Channel Street will not open until 2020, but Scottish Borders Council is already considering how to deal with the 50,000 people forecast to visit it each year.
An initial report, pulled together by Edinburgh-based Goodson Associates to support the planning application for the centre, highlights all the available parking in the town that could serve the new attraction.
It mentions the 113 spaces available at High Street, 32 at Ladhope Vale, 13 at Stirling Place and 44 at Stirling Street for public car parking.
But, worryingly for community councillors, it also highlights the 23-space car park adjacent to the Focus Centre, currently allocated for lorry parking too, for “coach/bus parking and layover”.
While none of that has been decided yet, community councillors have been quick to point out that the Currie Road car park might be better suited to housing the visiting buses than that at Livingstone Place.
But the 125 spaces available at the free-of-charge Currie Road car park there get no mention in the report.
Community councillor Tom Ingoldsby said: “If they are looking at the idea that buses might drop off at the tapestry centre then park here, at the Focus Centre, then we don’t have the best access.
“Currie Road is a much better option and route. You are in a circle there around the town. It has the room and is much more logical compared to using this car park.”
Chairwoman Judith Cleghorn added that the car park is vital to the centre, which may soon be taken over by volunteers through the community asset transfer scheme.
“This is a designated lorry park, and it’s a particularly poor car park,” she said.
“We have asked for it to be included in our plans to take the asset transfer forward.”
Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine appeared to ease concerns by highlighting the part of the report that states: “We have yet to agree the final bus layover position with our traffic/road safety colleagues and are open to suggestions, which may include the long-stay car park on Currie Road as an alternative.”
“We provided graphic representation of the wider parking provisions within Galashiels together with an area highlighted in blue to the south west of the town for bus layover that is currently allocated for lorry parking adjacent to the Focus Centre.”
The report adds: “The proposal is to convert the existing on-street car parking bays in Sime Place, along the west frontage of the tapestry building, to a multi-purpose parking zone.
“The zone will be approximately 29m long, which it is proposed to subdivide into a 22.5m coach drop-off/loading bay to the rear and a disabled parking bay at the front.
“The rear bay is long enough to accommodate a 15m luxury coach and provide enough manoeuvring room to allow the coach to pass a parked car in the disabled bay.
“Once visitors are dropped off, the coaches will park elsewhere in the town until collection is required.”
The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre is lined to kick-start the delivery of the council’s Galashiels masterplan to encourage investment in the town and the Borders economy from both the public and private sectors.