COUNCILLORS have agreed to bail out a planned old folks housing development in Galashiels.

Eildon Housing wants to build 39 extra care apartments on a former industrial site at Langhaugh.

But the Selkirk-based social housing landlord discovered the ground was badly contaminated during the recent demolition of the old factory buildings.

As well as chemical residues, the site was discovered to contain deadly asbestos.

And the cost of making the land safe prior to any building work commencing has led to a funding shortfall of up to £1.8 million.

This week members of Scottish Borders Council's executive committee agreed to stump up the cash required.

Housing strategy manager Gerry Begg told the committee: "It has always been realised that Scottish Borders Council was going to contribute to the development of these high cost housing projects.

"However, issues with contamination have emerged through site demolition and clearance works which indicates a funding gap of up to £1.8 million in a worst case scenario."

The 39 self-contained extra care flats for Langhaugh are part of a wider strategy for meeting older people's housing needs across the Borders.

Estimates for the Galashiels development, with the additional cost of cleaning up the contaminated land, stand at around £7.65 million.

The Scottish Government has already committed £2.57 million with Eildon securing a further £3.28 million in private borrowing.

Following this week's agreement Scottish Borders Council will contribute up to £1.8 million to help plug the shortfall incurred by clean-up works to satisfy the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Councillor Mark Rowley, executive member for Business and Economic Development, added: “The delivery of extra care homes right across the Scottish Borders has been identified as a priority and I am delighted that we’ve now been able to support a second development.

"Providing appropriate accommodation is vital to increasing the amount of care that can be provided to people in their own homes, helping them to live independently and in their own communities for as long as possible and also reducing the impact on various public services.

“That is increasingly important as the proportion of older people living in the Scottish Borders is expected to rise dramatically, and research has shown that over 60 per cent of people going into residential care could have avoided this if extra care housing schemes had been available.”