A community is more than just a shop

Your article about the new housing estate planned for Easter Langlee states that Scottish Borders Council members have called for a shop in the estate.

What a disappointment it is that councillors cannot see further than one retail unit. What a missed opportunity.

Councillor Watson states: “The shop is fundamental to the social cohesion of a settlement which could end up being the size of Lauder.” Surely the social cohesion of a large settlement is provided by more than one shop?

If this estate is going to be as big as a town, it needs to be planned like a town. Other types of businesses need to be attracted, not simply to fill the one vacant shop unit but to provide jobs and commercial activity to the area.

Nearly every business in the Borders is classified as a small business and many operate from the owner’s home, so why not look at an affordable business centre with shared facilities, IT access, Business Gateway support services, a meeting space and so forth? Perhaps a shared community facility with art gallery, cafe bar, and space for people to work from? Has there been consideration of a hotel with facilities to attract conferences and their associated spend in the local economy to the Borders?

Economic recovery in the Borders needs to be built on a strong, broad base of small businesses. The council has a key role in creating the right overall conditions for businesses to establish, survive and grow.

The Federation of Small Businesses represents more than 720 businesses in all sectors of the Borders economy. These businesses need to see creative and innovative thinking from the council when planning new developments to help the economy grow and give them the best chance to be part of that growth.

Gordon Henderson

development manager

Federation of Small Businesses