Hawick woollen mill’s plans for new design centre given thumbs-up

Johnstons of Elgin in Hawick.
Johnstons of Elgin in Hawick.

A Hawick textile firm’s ongoing expansion plans are knitting together well now it has been given the green light for a new research and design centre.

Johnstons of Elgin gained planning approval last year to relocate the yarn store at its Mansfield Road woollen mill to free up floorspace next to its production area.

And now Scottish Borders Council planners have rubber-stamped follow-up proposals to build a research and design centre in its place.

The new complex will accommodate designers, programmers and line-writers in an open-office environment.

A council economic development spokesman said the move would allow the business to continue to expand, adding: “We fully support the continued expansion of this successful local textile company, which started in Hawick in 1980 and is probably the largest independent employer in town, with a staff of around 300.

“The proposal, being the next stage in the company’s expansion at the site, will allow the company to be at the forefront of knitwear and textile production.”

In his report, planning officer Stuart Herkes says: “Given that the pre-existing use was a yarn store within a wider industrial use, reuse of the specific building as offices accommodating the proposed research and design use raises no planning concerns.”

No nearby properties will be affected as the planned external alterations to the existing building would only be visible from the courtyard within.

A report by Galashiels-based Aitken Turnbull Architects says: “Natural light is an important element of the proposed design to create a workable and functional working environment.

“The research and design centre will benefit from sections of glazing across the entire south facing elevation.

“Parking and access will remain as existing, with the added benefit of all delivery vans being redirected to the new yarn store alongside Mansfield Park.

“The company’s success and growth is resulting in the need for more space in the production process and associated works.”

Founded in 1797 by Alexander Johnston, Johnstons of Elgin is the second oldest family business in Scotland, employing almost 1,000 staff at its mills in Hawick and Elgin in Moray.