Bonchester Bridge in line for boost as caravan park makes comeback

Bonchester Bridge's once and future caravan park site.
Bonchester Bridge's once and future caravan park site.

A Borders village is poised to become a popular staycation destination for holidaymakers now approval has been granted for the revival of an old caravan park.

The original holiday park, home to around 60 caravans, was a popular attraction in Bonchester Bridge from 1977 until its closure in 2003.

Bonchester Bridge.

Bonchester Bridge.

The owner of the now-vacant site, developer Gavin Stevenson, applied to Scottish Borders Council for a certificate of lawfulness to enable the land to be returned to its former use, and that bid has now been approved.

Mr Stevenson, a director of Hawick property management firm GLS, is seeking an operator for the site and hopes it will be up and running ready for next summer.

He said: “This is good news, although it has taken a little bit longer than we had hoped.

“Current statistics prove that more and more people in the UK are enjoying staycations – staying at home in the UK rather than going on vacation – and the popularity of facilities such as caravan parks is growing exponentially.

“The benefit to the village of Bonchester Bridge will be immeasurable, and one of the major issues is that this facility might reintroduce some form of retail operation to provide an opportunity for local residents to acquire basic essentials without having to require transport to local conurbations.

“There was an operator interested, but because of the delays, we are not sure that they are still are, so we are now going back to those people, but we are still hopeful that we will find an operator and have the thing operational before the summer next year.

“The size of the caravan park will depend on what the individual operator wants to do because they will have to make a planning application if they want statics.

“We’re hopeful that we will find someone to take it on for the benefit of the area.”

Mr Stevenson’s application to host a mix of touring and static caravans was backed by a number of supporters, including Hawick and Denholm councillors Clair Ramage and Stuart Marshall, both welcoming the extra trade it would generate for the village’s pub, the Horse and Hound, and the employment it would provide.

Mr Marshall said: “It’s an excellent idea by Mr Stevenson and one with my full support.”

Ms Ramage added: “This is great news and will benefit Bonchester Bridge and the rural community as a whole.”

Bonchester Bridge resident and fellow GLS director Andrew Lubbock, of Harwood Mill, also backed the plans, saying in a letter of support: “The caravan park was an integral part of village life, at one time including a post office and shop.

“It was immaculately maintained and was popular with all the residents. There was never any problem regarding noise or anti-social behaviour.

“The pub was supported by the park’s occupants so that a good service, made possible by the increased revenue, was provided to benefit one and all.”

Plans for a housing development on the site were drawn up in 2003 but later withdrawn.

In his report on the application, council planner Stuart Herkes concludes that a caravan park remained a lawful use for the land.

He said: “This application for a certificate of lawfulness sought to establish that the historic use of the site as a caravan park is still the lawful use of this land, despite this operation having actively ceased at some point prior to the site having been made subject of planning consents for housing redevelopment in the early 21st century.”