AMBITIOUS plans to make Innerleithen the mountain-bike capital of Europe has sparked concern amongst locals worried about the future of a historic mill.

Over 400 people packed into the town’s Memorial Hall last month to hear proposals to create a word-class mountain bike innovation centre and bike park estimated to cost a cool £25million.

As the plans gather pace, fears have been expressed about the old Caerlee Mill, which sits within the site being lined up as the home for the innovation centre.

Chairman of Innerleithen Community Council Marshall Douglas said the consultation meeting was “very positive” but said there were a lot of “unanswered questions” and further consultation is a must.

He added: “One of the problems is that there is very little information on what they planned to do with the mill site. They say the two developments have to happen, they can’t have one without the other. So it has to be the bike park and the innovation centre.

“The thing that stood out from the previous uplift scheme was that there seemed to be very little in the way of bringing in private money or development money. The previous scheme was all reliant on getting public funding, and when that didn’t come the scheme fell. They seem a bit more organised on this one in that there’s money from the Borderland Growth Scheme.

“We want to develop something that is going to bring in jobs and tourism but it has to be workable.”

Planning permission was granted last year to build 44 homes on the Caerlee site, but finding a use for the B-listed Brodies Mill building, which dates back to 1788, has still to be resolved.

Community Councillor Gordon Daly said it is “fantastic” that the town is being considered for this development but added that people have voiced worries about the housing and the innovation park being so close together.

Tweeddale Councillor Stuart Bell said the Caerlee development is what people are most concerned about.

He explained: “The whole scheme has two parts, one is the bike park which is basically using the Golf Course and the other part is the innovation centre.

“If you go onto the planning application for the housing at Caerlee Mill you will see that there’s a specifically allocated protected site which is the mill. This is the solution for the mill. Now it has a lot of challenges associated with it and is going to be a very difficult and expensive building to develop. The suggestion is that there should be community facilities as well as the innovation centre there, but the intention is that the core of that will be part of the project.”

Councillor Bell said these types’ consultations have a very “one-sided” emphasis and asked the Community Council to co-ordinate a further public consultation directed at locals.

He explained: “What happened here was we attracted all the bobble hats, and the puffer jackets and the bikers.

"We want to have a consultation that invites townsfolk to come and find out more about it, which will perhaps alleviate concerns about it being all bike, bike, bike, and not focusing on the Caerlee Mill.”

The Community Council praised the “very credible group of bodies” working together from all sectors to make this vision a reality.