A CALL has been made to create more parking in the centre of Galashiels in an effort to save the high street.

It comes after an application was submitted earlier this year to allow the sale of food goods at units currently occupied by Carpetright and Currys at Comley Bank Mill Retail Park.

Developers said there had been interest from supermarket giant Lidl over moving to the area. But Galashiels Community Council formally objected to the plans.

And at Wednesday’s meeting, the group said something must be done to attract businesses to the town centre again.

Local resident Johnny Gray said from the public benches: “The only way to keep the high street going is to get cars back into the middle of Gala as quickly as we can.

“It is the only way to survive. Channel Street has been blitzed.

“Why did Home Bargains move from Channel Street to Stirling Street? Car parking spaces is the answer. I wonder how much the store’s turnover has increased since the move?

“Why are businesses wanting to go to premises outside of the town centre? Again, the answer is car parking.”

As previously reported, Nectar Asset Management submitted the plans to allow food to be sold at units at Comely Bank Retail Park to mitigate the risk of the park becoming empty in 2021 when all three leases expire.

Galashiels Community Council was among the objectors to the proposals, saying they were “detrimental to ongoing efforts to reinvigorate Galashiels town centre”, and that “access to the retail park is by a relatively narrow bridge... [and there] would be an increased risk of traffic accidents at this junction”.

However another member of the public said he thought the group’s decision to object was “fundamentally wrong”.

He added: “Gala is a major retail area for the Borders.

“What do you think will go in these units if not a supermarket? Most will close down. I think the town centre is gone and is not coming back.”

Local councillor Harry Scott (Ind) added: “I think we would be very wrong to dismiss private interest.

“I have cited my wife’s business several times. She is a photographer and when the industry changed she had to put her thinking hat on and change her model.

“I think that is what we need to do. I see a very bright future for the Borders.”