Plans for outdoor activity centre in Innerleithen are looking up

Published: 17 Jun 2012 09:300 comments

AMBITIOUS plans to create a new £5 million outdoor activity centre in the Borders took a step forward this week.

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INNERLEITHEN'S ambitious plans to create a new £5 million outdoor activity centre took a step forward this week.

AIMUp, the group behind bringing a mechanical uplift system to the town, submitted a pre planning notice with Scottish Borders Council for the creation of an adventure village beneath the slopes of Plora Rig.

For almost a decade local biking enthusiasts and business people have campaigned for an uplift.

And despite a feasibility study being carried out, as well as several high-profile meetings, in the past the project looked like it would be another victim of the economic downturn.

But the formation of AimUP has seen a resurgence in support - and this week's application is a vital step towards an uplift being installed.

AIMUp secretary Deirdre Latimer said: "We've been working towards this stage for over a year. Scottish Borders Council have been very supportive along the way and we hope the plans are acceptable."

Last July the Action for the Innerleithen Mechanical Uplift group held a series of public consultation events in Traquair, Innerleithen and Walkerburn. And they attracted widespread support for plans to help reaffirm the region as amongst the best for outdoor pursuits in the country.

Initial studies by Scottish Enterprise placed an £11 million price tag on the scheme. But revised plans, which would see an Alpine-style chairlift replaced by a monorail system, have reduced the costs to less than £6 million.

Mrs Latimer added: "We realised pretty quickly that downhill mountainbiking doesn't have a big enough market to support the scheme on its own. We had to cater for a wider audience, and that's what we've done. We think our plans will appeal to walkers and families as well as mountainbikers. If the plans are passed we will sit down and start looking towards the funding."

It is believed the scheme would generate around £5 million each year for the local economy as well as create almost 130 jobs.

This week's application, which will be considered by planners over the coming months, is for a new centre - featuring a cafe, bike store and bike hire outlet, two further retail shops and a shower and toilet block - a large car park, a toboggan track and station as well as an uplift system.

The new adventure village, which sits next to the B709 road to Traquair, will also have new biking routes to link up with existing trails.

Local councillor Gavin Logan is supportive of the plans. He said: "This is a huge step forward for AIMUp and I hope it all goes through the planning process quickly.

"There are a lot of professional people involved with the group and I have every confidence they will see this through. It is an extremely exciting development for Innerleithen."

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