Work expected to start soon on latest Kelso Square improvements

KELSO town centre is slowly being transformed, with the latest series of improvements expected to begin coming on stream during the next few months.

Members of Kelso Community Council last week discussed the progress of the Town Heritage Initiative project (THI), along with plans for the public artwork funded by supermarket giant Sainsbury’s.

By the end of January, it is expected that a decision will have been made on the successful tender to create new public toilets, two bus shelters and business hub in the pedestrian lane linking Horsemarket with Woodmarket.

Scottish Borders Council has already approved a planning application for the development.

Another element of the THI scheme will see pavements replaced in an ambitious plan to restore them to how they originally appeared.

“This is in discussion at the council just now,” local Scottish Borders councillor Alec Nicol (Lib Dem) told TheSouthern this week.

“The aim is to replace the current pavements with stone that has a high-class finish and returns their appearance to that of the original flagstones, as opposed to the present concrete ones.”

Mr Nicol said it had been hoped that work on replacing the pavements would start this month or in December.

“But the plan is for only a small section, somewhere discreet, to be worked on first so as to see what it turns out like in reality.

“Personally, I think all this work is great for the town. It is encouraging to see so much happening and that Kelso is trying to make the most of what it has to continue attracting shoppers and visitors.”

Mr Nicol also highlighted on-going work under the scheme of improvement grants, which has seen 36 applications for funding for repair and decoration work to buildings surrounding the Square, and a further 27 grants provided for Kelso via the Sainsbury’s Town Centre Shopfront Improvement Grant Scheme this year.

As part of its commitment to Kelso, Sainsbury’s offered £50,000 to enhance commercial properties in the town centre over 2012/13.

As for the public artwork project, community councillors heard that it seemed unlikely it would be installed by next year’s Civic Week, as a final design has still to be selected.

“It must include the concept of ‘Kelsae’ – the artwork that is finally chosen must reflect that,” said Harry Tomcyzk, a community council member on the town stakeholder group.

Local Scottish Borders councillor Tom Weatherston (Con) said the public will get a say on which bid for the winning artwork is finally chosen.

“The public will get a say every step of the way,” he said. “I think a lot of people think it will be a sculpture or statue, but it might not be anything that sticks up in the air.

“But I think people’s imaginations are running a bit wild on this now.”