THE region’s largest social landlord has confirmed it will spend £11m upgrading its rented properties in Galashiels and Innerleithen/Walkerburn in the current financial year.

These two areas have been prioritised for investment by the Selkirk-based Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA), which owns over 5,500 homes across the region.

“We have introduced 12 neighbourhood teams to tailor our services to meet local needs,” said an SBHA spokesperson this week.

“This year we have begun implementing a six-year plan, covering two neighbourhoods a year, with the programme shaped though stock survey evidence and feedback from our tenants across the Borders.”

Last week, SBHA took to the Public Contracts Scotland website to invite tenders for the replacement of gas central heating systems at 160 homes in Galashiels, Innerleithen and Walkerburn. The contract is worth an estimated £450,000 and the work is due to begin in October.

“Alongside this heating project, we are on site at the moment upgrading windows in 263 homes and installing 124 new kitchens and 222 bathrooms in parts of the Galashiels, Innerleithen and Walkerburn areas,” said the spokesperson.

“It is part of our planned investment of £11m on tenants’ homes this year, while the six-year plan involves an investment of around £40m by 2023.

“Alongside this, we will be looking at how we can improve communal areas, roads and footpaths in areas where the majority of homes are occupied by SBHA tenants.

“In carrying out the work, we will aim to minimise disruption to our tenants and we are currently planning the scheduling of contracts.

“Our teams will be working with tenants to ensure we complete the works quickly and to the agreed standard.

“Our tenants have told is that creating job opportunities for young people is important to them so, in commissioning this work, we will continue our strong track record of supporting apprenticeships and delivering community benefits.

“Since 2011, 11 SBHA apprentices have qualified and a further nine apprenticeships have been funded though our investment programme.

“We have also worked with partners to provide 62 work placements across a range of services and look forward to expanding this in future years.”