It’s full steam ahead for the conversion of a former railway station house into a restaurant and community hub now planners have given that move the green light.
Stow Community Trust has been drawing up plans to bring the village’s old station house back into use since 2013, and now approval has been granted by Scottish Borders Council planning officers for its conversion into a bar and bistro, community room and bicycle repair shop.
That project proved more complex than first envisaged as the property, alongside the Borders Railway, belongs to Network Rail and is maintained by ScotRail, but progress on it moved up a gear after funding was secured in 2017 to have a business case put together.
It was further boosted in March by the award of a £156,000 grant to the council and Stow Community Trust, from the Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ regeneration capital grant fund.
A report from Galashiels-based architect Aitken and Turnbull says: “The proposal has many benefits for the village of Stow and the area.
“It will bring a currently unused building into a viable and sustainable use.
“It will create employment within Stow, both in the restaurant and in the cycle business.
“It will create a destination for visitors to Stow and a focus in the village that can be used as a starting point for countryside walks and cycle routes currently being developed around the village.
“The new facility will be created for the use of the community.”
Stow’s station, opened in 1848, was closed to passengers in 1969 when the old Waverley Route linking Edinburgh and Carlisle was axed, but it reopened in 2015 after a 30-mile stretch of that track between the capital and Tweedbank was reinstated as the Borders Railway.
Subject to further funding being secured, the trust is hoping to reopen the station house after restoration in spring next year, said its vice-chairman, Bob Howarth.
Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, the council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “A lot of hard work has gone into the project to reach this stage, and more will be required, but with the support of the community and the council, I am hopeful we can see a new facility at the station house open in the near future.
“This is also another example of an opportunity being presented by the Borders Railway, with the proximity of the rail line to the building making it a prime location for people to visit and explore the surrounding area.”