PLANS to turn a former fashion store in Galashiels into the town's jobcentre are being backed by planners.

Proposals by the Department of Work and Pensions to relocate to the former Internacionale store on Douglas Bridge will be discussed on Monday.

There has been opposition to the application from five neighbouring businesses as well as Galashiels Chamber of Trade as Douglas Bridge is considered a prime retail site for visitors arriving by the Borders Railway.

But planning bosses are recommending the move is granted permission.

Planning officer Carlos Clark said: "The railway has been operational for around two years, and these units remain vacant, with no clear prospect of their reuse by a retailer in the near future.

"Their continued vacancy will not contribute to footfall rates in the town and the absence of an occupier is contributing negatively to the attractiveness of the town centre on this key pedestrianised route."

Internacionale, who went into administration, vacated the double two-storey units three years ago.

Between 2014 and 2016 vacancy rates for retail outlets in Galashiels fell from 19 per cent to 16 per cent.

But there has been little interest in the two outlets on Douglas Bridge despite widespread marketing.

Mr Clarke added: "This rate remains significantly high and these two units are contributing to this vacancy rate.

"A town centre needs activity, first and foremost, in order to be an attractive location for both shoppers and retailers, and the effect of these two vacant units on the activity in Douglas Bridge is discernible.

"The reuse of the units for the proposed use, with its predicted footfall, will clearly be of benefit to the town centre."

The DWP announced last year that it was moving out of its current home at New Reiver House, behind the High Street.

Initial plans to take over the the Channel Street units occupied by Dorothy Perkins and Burton fell through.

And the government body was unable to renegotiate with the owners to just lease part of New Reiver House.

If planning permission is granted on Monday, the DWP will open the doors of the Douglas Bridge job centre next April.

A spokesman for the DWP's agents JLL stated: "The proposed use of the premises on Douglas Bridge is located significantly more centrally within the town centre than the current job centre location, which is off beat.

"The Douglas Bridge location is also located in very close proximity to the Galashiels Transport Interchange and accordingly would be significantly more accessible than the current job centre."

Scottish Borders Council's planning committee will discuss the DWP application on Monday morning.