Council chiefs are being urged to block any potential plans for change of use of the site of the Abbotsford Arms Hotel in Galashiels.
The Stirling Street hotel is about to be demolished, and Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame is calling on Scottish Borders Council planners to do their utmost to encourage the construction of another hotel in its place.
The 15-bedroom hotel, empty for the last three years, is next to the town’s transport interchange, and Ms Grahame is fearful of such a prime location not being used to best advantage, especially with competition for the town looming in the form of a hotel development being proposed at nearby Tweedbank.
“It is somewhat bittersweet to see the old Abbotsford being pulled down as I know it holds memories for me and many others,” she said.
“However, the reality is that it has lain empty for three years on a central site ideal for a new, much-needed hotel.
“There is real economic potential for Galashiels in the tourism market, positioning itself as a location for excursions and as a base to explore the wider Borders.
“This is an ideal site, adjacent to both the train station and the transport hub , which would work well with the location of the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre opening in 2021.
“This site offers a chance for the council to be bold and imaginative.
“The hub and the train have both been successes, and this would further add to reinvigorating the central Borders.
“I am aware that a site at Tweedbank is being pursued by a developer for a hotel as, undoubtedly, the dearth of hotel accommodation centrally is seen as a commercial opportunity.
“This would, however, draw visitors away from Galashiels and indeed from there travelling via the hub to other parts of the Borders, unlike a development on this site.”
Consent has now been granted to the Abbotsford Arms Hotel’s owner, Graham Frost, of Edinburgh, to have it demolished.
Plans to have a hotel built on the former Burgh Yard site in Galashiels announced last year are now on hold after the council pulled the plug on its preferred developer, Stirling’s Ramoyle Developments, in December.