Scores of jobs will be created if plans for a 24-hour drive-through fast-food restaurant and relocation of a discount store in Hawick are given the green light.
The long-rumoured arrival in the town of what would be the Borders’ second McDonald’s outlet, joining one opened in Galashiels in 2000, could soon become a reality.
Planning approval is being sought for a drive-through facility on the site of the former Bruce Motors car showroom in the town’s Commercial Road.
Speculation has been rife for months among townsfolk, particularly on social media forums, that McDonald’s wants to set up in town.
Now Edinburgh-based developer Image Estates Queen Street has gone public with the plans for the site, located between the Sainsbury’s and Aldi supermarkets.
The planning bid also incorporates the relocation of the town’s B&M Bargains store from Croft Road to a larger unit in Commercial Road.
That store only reopened on Monday after it was forced to close because of problems with the building’s roof.
There are also plans for a new flood protection scheme pumping station on the site taking in part of the current Sainsbury’s car park.
A spokesman for Image Estates confirmed that the company was in talks with McDonald’s and at least one other fast-food chain operator, with a decision on which is to be given the contract expected within two or three weeks.
The spokesman added: “There is no named drive-through operator yet. We are speaking to two or three of the fast-food operators, but there is no deal done yet with anyone, although we have done a deal with B&M for its relocation.
“I can confirm, however, that McDonald’s is one of the operators we are currently talking to.
“There would be something in the region of 60 people employed on the site, in full-time and part-time posts, dependent on who the fast-food operator is, but the B&M store is increasing in size and will be taking on additional staff.
“The plans have now been submitted to Scottish Borders Council, and we hope to be able to make a statement on the choice of fast-food operator in the next two to three weeks.”
It is hoped the development will act as a catalyst for town’s continued economic upturn.
Town councillor Stuart Marshall and town provost Watson McAteer had been aware of the proposed development for some time, and the former believes the fast-food chain’s arrival will provide a real fillip for the town.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted that there is now real prospect of bringing McDonald’s to the town, and I’m sure many townsfolk, both young and old, who currently make regular trips to Gala in order to purchase from this famous fast-food outlet will also be thrilled.
“Both councillor McAteer and I have for some time been made aware by the developer of the possibility of such plans coming to fruition, and, if all goes according to plan, then this news, and the news of the B&M store relocating to the same area, will only complement the huge private investments that have currently been made along the Commercial Road.
“As yet, I’m not sure how many jobs will be created, but having such a famous name in our town as McDonald’s will, I’m sure, attract visitors from right across the region.
“I’m delighted that this good news story for our town is now in the public domain.
“Commercial Road is at long last living up to its name, and I am confident that there will be further good news to come along this very busy part of our town.”
Mr McAteer added: “It is fantastic news that McDonald’s have shown a high level of interest in Hawick, and I am sure that our young people will be keeping their fingers crossed that this facility is in place soon.
“The prospect of McDonald’s, or indeed any other fast-food outlet, locating in Commercial Road is great news for an area of Hawick that continues to redevelop and grow.”
Bruce Motors closed in December last year with the loss of nine jobs.
Currently, the nearest McDonald’s outlet to Hawick is at Wilderhaugh in Galashiels.