A “HUGELY exciting” project to create a mountain bike hub at a former Borders mill has been given the green light.

Development agency South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) bought the Caerlee Mill site last year.

And planning permission has now been granted by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to renovate the Innerleithen mill to be the home of a mountain bike innovation centre.

The hub is predicted to contribute £141m in Gross Value Added (GVA) and create more than 400 jobs in the south of Scotland across 10 years.

SOSE chair professor Russel Griggs said: “We are delighted to have secured planning permission for this hugely exciting project for Innerleithen, the Tweed Valley and the south of Scotland.

“This represents an important milestone and we can now start on-site construction works to deliver a world class innovation centre, bringing jobs, opportunity and growth to Innerleithen and the surrounding area.”

The project is set to be backed by more than £100 million of funding from governments on both sides of the border as part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

The overall initiative is being delivered by SOSE, alongside partners Edinburgh Napier University and SBC.

UK Government minister for Scotland John Lamont said: “It is fantastic that the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre has received planning permission.

“The Innerleithen centre will bring jobs and investment to the region creating a world class innovation centre that will attract riders from across the country and beyond.

“The UK Government is supporting the project with £19 million investment as part of the £265 million Borderlands Growth Deal.”

Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton, SBC’s executive member for community and business development, added: “The development of this world-leading facility in the south of Scotland, the home of the bike, is absolutely fantastic for the area and our economy.

“This builds on this area’s strengths and our existing reputation as a leading cycling destination, with some of the best mountain bike trails in the world, and will create a significant number of jobs and long term investment.”

The innovation centre will allow Scottish, UK and international companies to develop innovative products and services, or even train and test athletes within the mountain biking and cycling sector.

It will also offer a place for businesses to showcase their products in the heart of the UK’s leading mountain bike destination.

It is hoped the hub will help the south of Scotland hit its target to become mountain biking’s European capital, with Glentress Forest being one of the hosts for 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships this summer.