Scottish Borders Council has been taken to task for inviting public comments on plans for a £6million visitor centre to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland during the school holidays.
The council has formally submitted a planning application for the two-storey facility in protected woodland close to the new rail terminus at Tweedbank, and if approved, construction work is due to begin next March, with the centre up and running in the spring of 2017.
The public has been given until August 20 to respond and the bid could go before SBC’s planning and building control committee as early as September 7.
“This is unseemly haste for such a large and controversial development,” said Brian McCrow, the Innerleithen community councillor whose 4,300-signature petition, calling for the project to be scrapped, is not due to be considered by the council’s petitions and delegations committee until October 1.
“It is hard to escape the conclusion that this is being pushed through ahead of the petition and at a time when many Borderers are away on holiday.
“In the absence of the kind of public consultation which a project of this scale surely warrants, I urge Borderers to look at the plans and make their views known.”
Mr McCrow’s petition calls on councillors to overturn their decision, made in December last year, to allocate £3.5million in capital spending – repayable at over £200,000-a-year for 30 years – to the Tweedbank venture. The balance of the costs will be met by the Scottish Government.
“By having a large number of objections, we can force SBC to reject this application or at least refer to the Scottish Government for determination,” said Mr McCrow.
A spokesman for SBC told The Southern: “A tapestry application could go to the planning committee meeting on September 7, but is more likely to be decided on October 5.
“The date of August 20 is the minimum time the council must provide for people to comment on this application from its submission date.
“However, comments can still be made up until the day a decision is made.”