A BID to relocate Galashiels jobcentre has been approved on appeal.

But the move won't happen for at least another year.

The Department of Work and Pensions was refused permission in September to flit from New Reiver House, behind the High Street, to the former Internacionale store at Douglas Bridge.

But following an appeal to the Government the decision was overturned last week.

Reporter Lorna MaCallum didn't agree with the council's, or the Galashiels Chamber of Trade's, stance that the empty units remain prime retail spaces.

Following her inspection to Galashiels town centre in November, Ms MaCallum said: "A number of units were vacant or displaying ‘to let’ signs and I noted a number of charity shops.

"Overall it displays signs of decline and little evidence of recent investment.

"By comparison Bank Street contains few vacant units, is predominantly comprised of independent retailers and appears more buoyant.

"I noted other vacant units within the Core Activity Area and wider town centre that appear to be the same size or larger than the appeal premises.

"There was no evidence that loss of these two retail units would result in a shortage of units available to let within either the Core Activity Area or the town centre."

The Galashiels Jobcentre employs 31 members of staff and caters for around 150 people every day.

Following the initial refusal by Scottish Borders Council, the Department of Work and Pensions extended its lease at New Reiver House for a further year.

A spokeswoman told us: "We announced in October that we are progressing options for a new office and that staff and services will be staying in the current location at New Revier House, Galashiels for a period of at least 12 months while we complete this activity.

"This is still the latest position.”

Members of the local authority's planning committee unanimously voted to reject the DWP application at the start of September.

Several expressed their hopes that the arrival of The Great Tapestry of Scotland would revitalise central Galashiels.

And that demand would increase for the empty units.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison said: “On the one hand, we don’t want vacant shops, but on the other, we must give Galashiels time to reach its potential as a vibrant town.

“This will not happen overnight, but with the tapestry coming, we can see light at the end of the tunnel.

“The tapestry presents a unique opportunity to regenerate Galashiels and, in my view, we must look at the long game by preserving for retail use this important part of town.”

Following the decision by the Government's Planning and Environmental Appeals Division, a spokesman for Scottish Borders Council said his authority had 'noted the decision'.