Glentress Forest ‘masterplan’ given initial approval

Glentress Forest masterplan5Councillors in the Borders have endorsed the draft of a development masterplan for one of the region’s key visitor attractions out to consultation.

Glentress Forest near Peebles is considered to be one of the UK’s premier mountain biking venues and gets more than 300,000 visitors a year.

An enhanced visitor centre and potential cabin site are among the masterplan proposals which aim to will help them the site’s ambition to attract 500,000 annual visitors to the Tweed Valley.

Other proposals include:

  • the creation of an enhanced recreation centre to support existing developments
  • stand-alone mountain bike skills areas
  • improved roads giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists
  • at least 300 additional parking spaces
  • approximately 65 cabins providing accommodation.

The draft plan will now be subject to a three-month consultation period before being brought back to Scottish Borders Council’s planning and building standards committee to seek final approval.

Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development at the local authority, welcomed the move.

“The Glentress masterplan outlines some of the aspects of how that site could develop and improve considerably in terms of the attraction for mountain bikers,” he said.

“It also opens up the opportunity for a cabin development which could attract a wider range of family visitors.”

He said the development plan could have an impact throughout the Tweed Valley.

“When I go and talk to people in Peebles, it’s not really understood that at the moment 300,000 visitors come to Glentress and they’re hardly seen in the hills because the landscape can encompass them so well,” he said.

“As well as that, we’ve got the opportunities of development and growth further down the river at Innerleithen which could attract many of the visitors.

“People would want to see the opportunity to make a combined visit to the sites at Glentress and the site at Innerleithen.

“The masterplan opens up the opportunity for aspects of that.”

A spokesman for Forest Enterprise Scotland said: “The Glentress Masterplan is an overarching vision that shows how the area could potentially be developed to its best advantage.

“We’ve been working with others on this project since 2013 and involved many stakeholders and the local community. We’ve had great feedback all through the process and now the plan is for councillors to discuss this report on Monday and then consult widely on its contents.

“There’s plenty of potential there and the end goal is to create a high quality sustainable attraction for visitors and locals, whilst ensuring any development is in keeping with the environment.”

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