A BORDERS-BASED charity has announced exciting plans to convert a vacant industrial unit into a furniture restoration hub and ‘dynamic community space’.

A change-of-use application has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council for the former Smiths Workshop in Berwick Road in Chirnside, Duns.

The bid is from Bavs, formerly the Berwickshire Association for Voluntary Service, a charity with a focus on providing reuse and volunteering opportunities.

It currently operates three town-centre charity shops in Eyemouth, Coldstream and Duns.

Bavs was originally an independent voluntary organisation that was set up in 1971 that provided support to the third sector and community groups.

The Smiths Workshop building is an existing post-war single storey structure that has had a number of uses, its most significant recent use being part of the Lloyds Tractor Group’s operations on the site in the late 20th century.

Since Lloyds vacated the site and other existing buildings in the vicinity were demolished, it building has been refurbished and offered for rent by the owner. However, rental demand from the industrial sector has been poor, and the building is currently vacant.

Bavs proposes the transformation of the current workshop into a mixed-use space combining workshop and retail functions. The vision for the property is to establish the ‘Berwickshire Reuse Hub’, a dynamic community space dedicated to upcycling used furniture, fostering skill development, and promoting sustainability within the Berwickshire region.

The Berwickshire Reuse Hub will foster community engagement and skill development by serving as a platform for individuals to learn new skills such as furniture restoration, textile work, and upcycling techniques.

Collaborating with third-sector organizations like ReTweed, Allanbank Arts and the Hubs Makers, the aim is to host diverse skill development sessions, empowering members of the community to acquire valuable skills and knowledge.

The hub will also foster social inclusion and support through partnerships with Scottish Borders Council’s No One Left Behind scheme. It will provide a safe space for at-risk groups to develop employability skills and receive support.

Additionally, the hub will offer volunteering opportunities, fostering a sense of belonging and community cohesion.

A report with the planning bid says: “The hub will promote sustainability and reduce negative environmental impact by upcycling and repurposing furniture, it will also contribute to reducing waste and promoting a circular economy.

“Collaborating with Berwickshire Housing Association, the aim is to provide furniture to individuals in need, thereby addressing financial hardship and promoting social equity.

“Through its initiatives, the hub will reduce environmental impact and promote sustainable living practices. They will work with Scottish Borders Council’s waste department to encourage the reuse and recycling of items that would otherwise be treated as waste.

“The Berwickshire Reuse Hub represents a unique opportunity to transform an underutilised property into a vibrant community asset.”

The hub will initially have four paid members of staff and will endeavour to create volunteering opportunities for a minimum of 20 people.