Disused shop in Galashiels to be turned into base for charity

94 Channel Street in Galashiels.94 Channel Street in Galashiels.
94 Channel Street in Galashiels.
A former fundraising shop in Galashiels is to become a base for a charity supporting people with disabilities.

Planners at Scottish Borders Council have approved the conversion of the old Age Concern shop in Channel Street into an office, meeting place and drop-in centre for the Cornerstone charity.

Approval was granted despite the application being contrary to planning rules encouraging retail use only in town centres.

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It was agreed that the new facility would attract much-needed additional footfall in the town centre, with almost 30 staff being based at the office and clients and carers also utilising its services.

Lead planning officer Carlos Clarke said: “The agent has advised that it would function not just as an office but also as a meeting place for clients and their carers, as well as a drop-in centre and training facility.

“The proposal would contribute positively, reusing a shop vacant since September 2018.

“Albeit not providing a significant contribution to retail activity in the town, this proposal will provide a community facility that will clearly be vastly preferable to the vacant shop that currently exists.”

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A spokesperson for the Aberdeen-based charity said the site would be used by 27 staff in the course of an average week, adding: “Cornerstone works with, for and integrates with the disadvantaged in our community.

“For it to be effective, it needs to be in the community, not on the edge of town or in an industrial estate.

“It is anticipated that the office will accommodate, on average, approximately seven permanent office-based staff and a further 10 mobile staff who will provide support in the community.

“The mobile staff will attend the office daily to liaise with team leaders and management.

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“In addition, a further 10 management and operational staff will regularly attend the office several times a week.

“In all, it is expected that 27 staff will visit the premises every week, some five days a week, some two afternoons a week.”

“Some clients will attend the premises for formal review meetings or possibly training. Some will use the drop-in facility not just for the tea or coffee but also to interact with others visiting in a similar capacity, providing support for each other.

“More often than not, the client will also be accompanied by a carer.”

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