Galashiels site recommended for Great Tapestry of Scotland
In October last year, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) unanimously approved £6 million plans to build a permanent home for the Tapestry close to the train station in the village of Tweedbank where the new Borders railway terminates.
However, a new site in Galashiels emerged earlier in the year which was not available when the original assessment of the town was carried out, and significant work has since been undertaken to look at Galashiels in conjunction with the original Tweedbank site.
Since February 2016, SBC has been working in partnership with the Scottish Government and other partners in the Borders Railway Blueprint programme to consider the best location for housing the Tapestry in the region.
The due diligence process has now been completed, and it summarises that: “The Galashiels option has the potential to deliver a successful tourism and regeneration proposition in a way that the Tweedbank option does not.
“The Galashiels proposal provides the opportunity for additional education and community use that is not a feature of the Tweedbank proposal. Furthermore, the Galashiels site benefits from a significant degree of community support and is consistent with the Scottish Government’s Town Centre First Principle in relation to place-making and regeneration.”
The Scottish Government has also confirmed that its previous £2.5million funding pledge will be available for the Galashiels project, if Elected Members approve Galashiels as the chosen destination at the council meeting on December 22.
Councillor David Parker, leader of SBC, said: “The Great Tapestry of Scotland is of national and international importance and siting it in the Scottish Borders will create a world-class tourist attraction.
“The Galashiels proposal now being recommended was not available for consideration when the Tapestry project commenced, but earlier this year, due to the former Poundstretcher site becoming vacant and positive discussions with Royal Mail, an affordable and deliverable site in Galashiels has been identified.
“The site in Galashiels will benefit from enhanced support from a range of funders and the site provides greater accommodation with more flexibility for the Tapestry and other exhibits and facilities.
“The town centre site will have a significant regeneration impact on Galashiels and will bring many benefits to nearby local businesses.
“Although both the Tweedbank and Galashiels sites have their advantages, there can be no doubt that after careful consideration Galashiels offers the greatest potential to provide a world class attraction which will make a significant contribution to the Borders economy.”
Councillor Parker added: “Elected Members will consider a very robust business case and due diligence report at the council meeting on 22 December when a final decision on the Tapestry can be made.
“With tourism being a critical economic growth area for the Borders and with the Tapestry situated in the town centre, close to the new Borders Railway and benefiting from excellent road links, a really exciting and special tourist attraction can be delivered.”
Councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s executive member for economic development, added: “If approved by Councillors, the Tapestry will help generate tourism and promote economic development in our area.
“While both sites have been thoroughly considered, Galashiels has been recommended because it offers the opportunity to develop a significant regeneration project for the centre of the town, with additional educational and community uses.
“The Galashiels proposal is in line with the Scottish Government’s Town Centre First Principle, which encourages the public sector to continue to invest in town centres and help communities thrive, and also has significant support in the local community.”
Designed by Page\Park Architects, the two-storey development will deliver a permanent gallery space for the Great Tapestry of Scotland, the longest embroidered tapestry in the world at 143 metres long, which has been moving round the country on an exhibition tour.