Could Beech Avenue regeneration make people want to stay there again?

Beech Avenue, Galashiels.
Beech Avenue, Galashiels.

Residents in the Beech Avenue area of Langlee in Galashiels are to be consulted over plans to regenerate the area.

Scottish Borders Council and Waverley Housing are launching a joint ‘masterplanning’ project which will look into problems the housing association has encountered when trying to lease homes there.

Particularly focusing on Beech Avenue, Hawthorn Road, Larch Grove and Laurel Grove, the aim of the project is to guide the preparation of a comprehensive and fully-costed feasibility study on regenerating the area, including creating high-quality housing.

The work is being funded by the council and also involves input from Scottish Borders Housing Association and Eildon Housing.

A key part of the consultants’ work will be an extensive consultation exercise with local residents, community groups and other stakeholders, seeking their views on future options for the area.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “Upper Langlee is an important residential area and it is important that we consider what needs to be done to improve the area, as part of the wider regeneration of Galashiels.

“This masterplanning project is an opportunity for the council and Waverley Housing to work closely together with local residents and community groups such as Langlee Residents’ Association to ensure that a shared vision for the area is developed, agreed and taken forward by all parties.”

An external consultant, Ark Consultancy – which was involved in the recent regeneration of the Craigmillar estate in Edinburgh – has been appointed to lead on the work, which is due to start this month. The final reports will be considered by the council and the board of Waverley Housing in mid-2018, with the view to creating an action plan going forward.

Margaret Ross, chief executive of Waverley Housing, said: “We have been working closely with the council to progress this project and are very pleased to see that the first steps towards presenting possible options for the future of the area have commenced.

“There is now a real sense of purpose with all parties pulling together to work up proposals to achieve a better future for the area.”

Judith Cleghorn, chair of the Langlee Residents’ Association, said: “This is an exciting piece of work which the association will be fully involved in and is supportive of. I would encourage all residents in Upper Langlee to make sure that they have their say when the time comes.”

Mrs Cleghorn, who also chairs Galashiels Community Council, which last night heard a pitch by Gregor Booth of Waverley Housing, Arc Consultants’ John Patterson and Gavin Yuill of Cameron Architects, said she believed a name change of the street would be a good start.

She said: “I think we need to rename the street ... it’s a big part of the problem as there is a stigma attached.”

And community councillor Bill White said: “In the consultation, we need to try to find out the reasons why people don’t want to stay there any more. It’s an important question that needs to be asked.”