THE signing of the Borderlands Growth Deal, worth around £350m to the region, is set to be pushed back due to coronavirus.

The Borderlands Partnership describes itself as ‘a shared ambition to unlock the south of Scotland and north of England’s potential as an economic hub to encourage new business and job opportunities’.

It brings together Scottish Borders Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, and Northumberland County Council.

One of the key projects of the deal is funding a study into reinstating the Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Carlisle.

The partnership will also fund a £19m ‘Mountain Bike Innovation Centre’ in Innerleithen.

Other projects set to be funded by the deal include the Carlisle Station Gateway, the Chapelcross Energy Park near Annan, and the Berwick Theatre and Conference Centre.

The UK and Scottish governments have agreed to provide £350m for the partnership, with the constituent councils set to add a further £45m between them.

According to the partnership, it anticipates the investment will deliver an extra 5,500 job opportunities, attract more than four million extra tourists and unlock investment in towns across the area, boosting the region’s economy by £1.1bn.

However, the final signing of the agreement has been delayed. 

A report, published by Dumfries and Galloway Council ahead of its meeting on Thursday, July 30, reads: “Work has continued throughout this year on developing the business cases required to progress to final deal despite the challenges that partners have faced due to the current COVID-19 crisis. 

“It is anticipated that the signing of the final deal will be delayed until the end of this calendar year due to resources being redeployed to other tasks in partner organisations and in both governments.”

Of the £350m of funding announced for the deal, £150m is due to be spent in Scotland and £200m over the border.

The Scottish allocation of the funding is provided jointly by the Scottish and UK governments, with £85m coming from Holyrood and £65m coming from Westminster.