A MULTI-MILLION pound project to regenerate a Borders village has reached “a significant milestone” now that planning permission in principle has been granted.

At a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Monday (March 29), members gave their backing to the proposals.

The development – put forward by H&H Group – would see Newtown St Boswells’ auction mart upgraded, as well as the creation of retail facilities, a hotel, up to 150 houses and a new campus for Borders College.

Tim Ferguson, from planning agents Ferguson Planning, said the project will “create hundreds of new jobs” and “bring the auction mart into the 21st century”.

Kelso councillor Simon Mountford, chairing the meeting, said: “This is a significant development for Newtown St Boswells and will significantly increase the population and also the infrastructure for the village.”

The Conservative representative added: “It’s also a fantastic opportunity to introduce really good design into the village which currently doesn’t have a coherent design throughout.”

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Neil Richards, Conservative councillor for Hawick, described the development as “an incredibly exciting plan”.

In a report put to councillors, plans for the mart were outlined including adding new auction rings, a car park and canteen.

According to the paper, “the reorganisation of the mart will remove old pens and mart buildings and release space to create an enhanced village centre”.

The development also involves a new roundabout added on the A68 to divert traffic directly to the site, rather than through the village.

East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton, of the Conservatives, said: “The key argument is going to be this roundabout.

“It takes all the heavy traffic out of the village and opens up the whole site for development.”

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The new roundabout will allow access to the land on the east of the site for a “rural retail / business hub together with an educational campus”.

Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton, also of the Conservatives, said: “It will be a national first, really, to have something on this scale in agriculture.”

Meanwhile, the SNP’s Donald Moffat, who represents Mid Berwickshire, added: “It’s good for Borders farming and good for the village in the long run.”

Commenting on the approval, Richard Rankin, CEO of H&H Group PLC, said: “This is a significant milestone, and the first step on a long ladder for the regeneration of the town of Newtown St Boswells.

“I would like to thank the local community, the farmers who use the market and everyone involved in the project today for their continued support since its inception. This development has been on pause for nearly three years and today is a fantastic step forward in the right direction.

“Our aim has always been to future-proof the mart and to create a mixed-use site with maximised output and economic regeneration.

“It is about collaboration with a range of sectors to create jobs, affordable housing, and to meet local demands and the needs of the next generation.”