A 50-SEAT café will soon be on the menu at a beautiful walled garden tourist attraction in Melrose – despite concerns over a potential negative impact on town centre traders.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has rubber-stamped a bid from the National Trust for the change of use of a workshop building to a café at the northern part of Priorwood Garden.

The new outlet – to be known as the Pear Tree Café – would accommodate a kitchen, servery, dry store and toilets.

The timber-clad extension would provide seating for 50 people accessed via a new opening in the wall from the servery and with an entrance from the garden, with ramps and steps.

An external seating area would be formed at the viewing area for nearby Melrose Abbey, with removable free-standing canopies and a new opening and lockable gates within the existing boundary wall.

The development has caused concerns among some traders who raised objections.

One business owner said: “I object on the basis there are numerous existing independent cafés/restaurants/takeaway establishments within the town to cater for visitors and locals alike. The town does not need another café.”

Another town trader added: “There is a significant number of similar businesses in the town already and the addition of another café could simply dilute the available business and affect the current traders in the town.”

Further concerns were raised over issues around increased traffic, litter, noise nuisance and detriment to the environment.

In her report approving the application, Julie Hayward, SBC’s lead planning officer, says: “A number of the representations received are from local businesses objecting to the provision of another café and the impact this would have on existing, similar businesses.

“This is not a material consideration that can be taken into account when considering this proposal.

“The gardens are owned by the National Trust for Scotland and are open to the public between April and October.

“The design and access statement advises that this is a very popular attraction. The proposal seeks to provide improved facilities for visitors to the site to enhance the visitor experience of the gardens.”