A TATTOO shop in Galashiels is fighting for its survival after council officers refused a retrospective planning application. 

Timebomb Tattoo, at 52 Bank Street, applied to Scottish Borders Council to convert its premises into a tattoo parlour, after the shop had already opened. 

Officers from the council’s planning department took a dim view of the change and refused the application, forcing Timebomb Tattoo to appeal this decision in an attempt to keep the business open. 

Outlining the reasons for refusal, officers said that a retail or a food shop would better suit the location: “The level of contribution of the proposed use to the town’s core retail function will not be so significant as to justify its occupation by the proposed use and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. 

“The development would potentially detract from the vitality and viability of the town centre and no other material considerations would outweigh this potential harm.”

The owner of Timebomb Tattoo, Craig Oliver, will now appeal to councillors to reverse the decision at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s local review body on Monday, September 17. 

Commenting on the situation, Mr Oliver said: “Timebomb Tattoo is one of Scotland’s leading tattoo salons.

“Clients travel from across the Borders, Scotland, and even Europe for the sole purpose of having a tattoo done at Timebomb. 

“The salon is highly regarded within the sector and the tattoo artists employed in the shop are invited to attend exhibitions and conventions. 

“Visiting tattoo artists, with the most recent coming from the USA, come to Timebomb to feature their work and draw a fresh range of clients. 

“Timebomb offers employment to four tattoo artists, all of whom have full diaries and are booked up six to seven weeks in advance. 

“An average of 200 clients visit the salon each month. Most are accompanied by a friend or family member who, whilst the tattoo is being made, visit local cafes, restaurants and shops. 

“As such, Timebomb is significantly contributing to the local economy and footfall.” 

Footfall in Scottish Borders town centres has fallen dramatically over the last decade, leading to an increase in empty shops.

Galashiels has been especially hard hit, with a recent retail survey showing that 37 retail units are currently standing empty in the town centre. 

Recently, the council agreed to relax restrictions on businesses opening up in Galashiels as part of a retail pilot aimed at reversing the decline in footfall and occupancy rates.

Leisure businesses, professional or financial services and non-residential institutions will now be tolerated along the town’s two main shopping streets, and businesses such as tattoo shops and travel agents will be able to open providing they can prove they will generate footfall for the area.

Timebomb Tattoo will be hoping to demonstrate to councillors that they will contribute to footfall in Galashiels town centre, which owner Craig Oliver highlighted in his request for an appeal: “It is frustrating and upsetting that the change of use was denied just weeks before Scottish Borders Council announced plans to relax the strict retail use in Galashiels. 

“It is particularly distressing that, prior to that decision, other businesses have recently been granted change of use in Bank Street with little or no hurdles to overcome. 

“To reiterate, Timebomb is a thriving business giving employment to four, it attracts visitors to the town, with Timebomb clients visiting other shops and businesses. 

“Timebomb actively contributes to the local economy.”