Galashiels council hold onto hotel hopes

Proposed Border Gateway layout in Tweedbank.
Proposed Border Gateway layout in Tweedbank.

Galashiels community councillors have gone full circle and are now in favour of a new hotel being built at Tweedbank – as long as it leads to another being built in their own town.

Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee approved the bid by by Edinburgh based developer New Land Assets to build a 71-bedroom Premier Inn, along with a BP petrol filling station and a Costa drive-through, on land at the edge of Tweedbank’s industrial estate last week.

Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson.

Galashiels councillor Andy Anderson.

Galashiels community councillors, upset and frustrated after repeated attempts to entice hotel chains to build in their own town in order to back-up existing and future infrastructure, were originally dead set against the idea.

It’s chairperson, Judith Cleghorn said at the time that Galashiels had been promised by the then council leader David Parker that the next hotel to be built in the Borders would be in Galashiels – which currently has no hotel other than the one at Kingsknowes, on the outskirts.

However, some came round after being shown a demonstration by the developer, who promised them that other hotel chains would be watching closely how well the Tweedbank facility was doing, and that could enhance the possibility of Premier Inn’s competitor Travelodge setting its sights on Galashiels.

And now, with the Tweedbank development a done deal, most of the members have decided its best to embrace the situation.

At last Wednesday’s meeting of Galashiels Community Council, Scottish Borders Councillor Andy Anderson – a member of the planning and building standards committte at Newtown St Boswells – gave an update on the situation.

He said: “We thought long and hard about the hotel, and heard a lot of good evidence.

“I voted in favour of this, as I firmly believed it would heighten the chances of another hotel opening in Galashiels.

“The Premier Inn will be perfectly placed to serve people coming to visit a loved one at the Borders General Hospital and staying over.

“It’s also just a short journey to the railway, which would allow anyone staying to visit cafes, pubs and clubs in Galashiels, or the Great Tapestry of Scotland, when the new building is built.

“What it came down to was that there was no sound planning reason to reject this.”

Community councillor Drew Tulley asked Mr Anderson: “What are you going to do when you get another application for land there, now you have set a precedent?”

Mr Anderson told him: “There is no such thing as precedent in planning ... each and every application is judged on its own merits.”

Councillors were asked by members of the community council about the off-on situation regarding a possible hotel being built at the Burgh Yard site, below Braw Lads Brae.

Mr Anderson said: “The last I have heard is that there are five credible bids.

“Hopefully they may come to fruition if the Premier Inn does well at Tweedbank.”

Local solicitor Ian Collie, sitting on the public benches, had some advice for the councillors on that particular site in order to make it a bit more saleable.

He said: “Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to tidy up the Burgh Yard ... while you are asking everyone else to tidy their own properties.”

Rik Kenney, the community council’s vice-chairman, standing in for Mrs Cleghorn who was on holiday, said: “I think we should try to get behind this development as much as we can and hopefully, it will lead to bringing a hotel here.”