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Planning zones boost for Borders rail region

Anneka Meiklejohn


The Borders Railway is hoping to take advantage of special planning powers as part of a strategy to attract investment to the region.

Those involved in promoting the opportunities along the 30-mile route are hoping that key locations will be designated Simplified Planning Zones.

This will fast-track developments along the newly-built railway by having basic approvals already in place.

Rob Dickson, corporate transformation director for Scottish Borders Council, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for companies to do business in the area.”

There is also an application to turn the Borders region into a business improvement district.

At a presentation in Edinburgh of its inward investment prospectus, attended exclusively by Daily Business, representatives of Edinburgh, Borders and Midlothian councils made the case for developing up to 100 designated sites for either business or residential use.

Keith Brown, minister for infrastructure, investment and cities, led claims that the Borders railway was a “catalyst for growth”.

Andrew Mickel, chairman of Mactaggart and Mickel and director of Shawfair, the new town on the route, said: “We are aiming to revitalise the south east edge of Edinburgh. The arrival of the railway has given Shawfair the confidence to invest.”

He said Shawfair would become the fourth largest town in the area, equal in size to Cupar and Linlithgow, and would have 1 million sq ft of office and retail space available.

Annika Meiklejohn, a founder of Tempest Brewery, told guests that the company had moved to Tweedbank because of the railway where it was hoping to build a new brewery. It had helped reduce staff turnover.

“We saw staff leaving regularly. Now five of our staff use the railway,” she said. “We see huge opportunities in the Borders to be successful.”

Photo: Annika Meiklejohn (by Terry Murden)

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