COMMUNITY leaders in Melrose are worried the new Tweedbank development could take trade away from the town.

As reported in last week’s Border Telegraph, developer New Land Assets wants to redevelop a site at the corner of the village.

At last Wednesday’s community council meeting, member Val Miller said: “I am worried this development might affect our town. We are still feeling the effects of the new Co-op store.

“I do not see anything in these plans that will be particularly valuable to Melrose. I think people come to our town for our independent shops and businesses.

"We don’t want to have a ghost high street – similar to what is happening in Gala.”

Local businessman Martin Baird added: “We have the Co-op in Melrose, Asda and Tesco in Galashiels – I don’t see the need to build a supermarket in Tweedbank – there is already huge pressure on our high street.”

But Duncan Hamilton, managing director of New Land Assets, was quick to allay fears.

He told the meeting: “I understand the concerns, but I don’t think this new development will take people away from Melrose. It will attract people coming from outwith the area.

“This development will not provide direct competition with Melrose. We welcome everyone’s feedback and comments and there has been a pretty positive response from Tweedbank Community Council, who have seen the benefits of job creation.”

The plans also include a 60-bedroom budget hotel, a drive-through coffee shop and petrol station – creating 100 jobs in the process.

And, while many members were against the new supermarket, they welcomed the proposals for the new accommodation and filling station.
Robin Chisholm said: “The Borders is crying out for a budget hotel, especially for walkers. 

“There are a lot of tourists who come to the area looking to stay in a budget hotel and I think our town could benefit in the process. The chances are people who stay there might visit the rugby club, the abbey or Abbotsford for example.”

Chairman William Windram said: “The A6091 is an important road in the Borders and I think building a petrol station near it would be very handy.”

Mr Hamilton said he hoped to be able to announce the interested hotel chain and supermarket next month.

He added: “There has been interest from budget hotels. They see having Borders General Hospital close by as an advantage, as people who are visiting patients could stay there. 

“We will be hosting a public consultation event on March 14 at Tweedbank Community Centre from 2pm-8pm.

“If the application is successful we would look to begin work at the start of 2019 with a view getting it complete by the end of 2019.”