LONG-DESIRED facilities for mountain bikers at an abandoned Peeblesshire toilet block have taken a major step forward.

The loos are seen as badly needed in Innerleithen, with the community council hearing tales of cyclists defecating and urinating on driveways and in car parks.

Biking provision in the town was given a huge boost last week when it was announced that plans for an innovation centre had been backed by the council.

And now the bid by The Hub Innerleithen Community Interest Company (The Hub CIC) to transform the derelict block in Hall Street looks set to progress.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has issued the terms for a lease to the group, while also promising its help to get the project off the ground as quickly as possible.

Carmel Walsh, one of the hub’s trustees, has been working on the project for public toilets, showers and exterior cycle washing for mountain bikers for nearly three years.

Ms Walsh told a recent meeting of Innerleithen and District Community Council (IDCC): “The planning package is ready to go but we cannot go ahead without the lease.

“We have support from South of Scotland Enterprise and Oberlanders, the architects on the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre scheme.

“With the surge in visitors, due mostly to the increase in UK holidays due to COVID-19, it was obvious that our wee toon needed more facilities to cope with demand.

“The toilet block in Hall Street is, at this time, being used as a resilience shed by the community council.

“Having spoken with the community council, and found them in favour of our idea, we approached the council regarding an asset transfer or lease of the building.”

An SBC spokesperson said: “The council have been in discussion with The Hub Community Interest Company to agree a lease on the disused toilet block in Innerleithen to allow The Hub CIC to develop a bike wash and changing facility.

“As part of the council’s due diligence process internal consultations were undertaken which required further information from the hub, in particular relating to drainage which has recently been provided.

“The heads of terms for a lease have been issued to the group and will be formally documented once they have confirmed that they are happy to proceed.

“Furthermore, the council’s director of infrastructure and environment met with representatives of the CIC and the wider community recently and agreed that the council will work to help enable the development of the facility to progress as quickly as practicable.”

Last week planning permission was secured for the innovation centre in the town.

It is expected to create more than 400 jobs in the south of Scotland across a 10-year period.