Borders council chiefs agree to raise stake in Hawick regeneration scheme to almost £200,000

Council chiefs have agreed to chip in an extra £42,300 for a Hawick regeneration scheme to bump up its budget to almost £2m.

Monday, 22nd April 2019, 1:11 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd April 2019, 1:14 pm
The old Queen's Head pub in Hawick High Street.

Scottish Borders Council has been awarded £1.3m by Historic Environment Scotland to fund a conservation area regeneration scheme in the town, and it originally intended to add £157,000 to that kitty but instead has had to stump up an extra £42,300, raising its stake to just short of £200,000.

Private-sector contributions are expected to yield a further £358,750, giving the project a budget of £1.93m to spend on restoring town centre shopfronts and historic buildings.

It follows similar schemes in Kelso and Selkirk and one currently under way in Jedburgh.

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee last week, councillors agreed to contribute that extra money, emphasising the benefits the scheme will bring to Hawick.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull told the meeting: “This is a great news item for Hawick and will help with the town centre’s regeneration.

“I wish the project well and every success over the next five years.”

Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston added: “I welcome this as great news for Hawick.

“Talking from experience, the biggest problem building in Kelso didn’t get done because we couldn’t get hold of the owners and get them on board.

“My advice would be that if there is an owner who can’t afford the 10% contribution, then I’d say they need to try hard to help the owners and identify other sources of money to help them.”

A similar scheme in Selkirk saw £1m-plus of public-sector funding invested between 2013 and 2018.

Over that period, the number of at-risk buildings in Selkirk’s town centre was reduced from seven to two, average footfall rose from a low of 2,090 to 2,710, and the percentage of vacant shops has neen cut to below average for the Borders.

Hawick, on the other hand, has seen ongoing deterioration in its town centre.

Average weekly footfall has declined from 9,990 in 2008 to 4,680 now, and the latest retail audit in December 2017 counted 37 vacant units in the town centre, 26 of them empty for over a year, plus seven at-risk buildings within the town centre.

Kelso’s £1.4m conservation area regeneration scheme ran from 2010 to 2015 and funded repairs to 42 buildings, plus 12,400 cobbles being relaid in the town square.

Jedburgh’s £1m scheme will run until March 2022.

Properties in line to be renovated in Hawick include the Crown Business Centre at 20-22 High Street, the old Queen’s Head pub at 32 High Street, the former Liberal club at 80 High Street, the now-closed KT Krafts shop at 24 High Street and the vacant Beauty Lounge unit at 26 High Street, as well as 4 Round Close.