A MAJOR project which would have seen a hotel built on land in Galashiels town centre has been ‘kiboshed’, a meeting has heard.

Exciting plans for the former Burgh Yard were unveiled by Edinburgh-based Futurity Ventures last year.

They included building a long-desired hotel in Galashiels on the land off Braw Lads Brae, as well as a 60-bed care home, 37 apartments and six ‘affordable’ flats.

But at last week’s meeting of the town’s community council, member Bill White said bosses at the firm received a call from the local authority at the end of the year informing them they had missed out – in favour of a “social housing” bid.

“The second week of December they get a phone call saying they had been pipped at the post,” said Mr White, adding that the company was told there would be no opportunity for a re-bid. “The offer that came in was for social housing.

“It was not going to cost Scottish Borders Council (SBC) a penny.

“If that [site] was for housing it would have been sold years ago, it was for an economic development.”

Mr White, a former councillor, added: “There was no financial risk to SBC. So what we’re left with is no hotel, no nursing home, no economic benefit. Where is this new hotel going?

“This was their [the company’s] first foray into the Borders. Someone has made that decision to not go ahead. These people won’t be back and they’ll be telling their friends.”

He said that the company had “spent a fortune” developing the bid, including creating a website as part of a community consultation on the plans.

At Wednesday’s meeting, fellow community councillor Jane Mele said the plans put forward by Futurity Ventures “sounded fantastic” and asked why SBC had “put the kibosh on”.

Member of the public John Gray called for clarity on the future of the Burgh Yard site, adding: “Who are the parties that they’re dealing with? Are they for housing or are they for the hotel?”

Following the community council meeting, an SBC spokesperson said: “A number of proposals for the sale and development of the Burgh Yard site were received by the council.

“These were evaluated against various criteria and a recommendation made to the executive committee regarding the sale. A wide range of proposals and site usages were presented, all of which required a number of other conditions to be met, meaning immediate development was not possible in any instance.

“The sale is currently being concluded and we look forward to more details regarding the development of the site coming into the public domain in due course.”

In an update in January, SBC said it was “exploring possible site options” for a hotel “in or around Galashiels” and had been in discussion with potential investors.

It added that talks were “at an early stage, commercially sensitive and dependent on the economic climate”.

There have been repeated calls to bring a hotel to the town in recent times.

The Abbotsford Arms was demolished to make way for a Starbucks drive-through last year.

There were also reports last year of hotel chain Travelodge seeking to open a new venture in the area. In 2021 Premier Inn walked away from plans to build a hotel in Tweedbank as part of the Borders Gateway project.

It said a hotel in that location was “currently unviable”.