South Scotland

Tesco and council in Galashiels building facade feud

Tesco sign
Image caption The former textiles college was taken down to make way for a supermarket five years ago

A dispute has developed between Tesco and Scottish Borders Council over the fate of an historic facade taken down to make way for a supermarket.

The former textiles college in Galashiels was demolished in 2006 but the company retained the stonework.

The council wanted to use it for a transport hub in the town but said Tesco had not offered enough funding.

That has been disputed by the company which said it could now dispose of the stone from the college elsewhere.

Work started more than five years ago on the new Tesco store despite public concern about the loss of a building of historical importance.

Attempts were made to have the property listed but calls for a public inquiry failed as the supermarket construction was completed.

However, Tesco retained the masonry from the old site in order for it to be rebuilt somewhere else in the town.

The council had hoped it could be incorporated into a new £5m "transport interchange" it is building on Stirling Street.

That facility will provide connections between all forms of transport including train, bus, taxi, car drop-off, cycling and walking.

It will also include new business space to encourage the "vitality and viability" of the town centre.

It is hoped to be delivered in time for the opening of the rail route from Edinburgh to the Borders in 2014.

SBC said that after 18 months of talks with Tesco it had decided to drop plans to use the facade of the old building in the new structure.

That was the favoured option which emerged during public exhibitions of design options.

Council leader David Parker said: "SBC was happy to seriously consider the incorporation of the facade into this new iconic building and our only concern was to ensure Tesco provided sufficient funding for this to happen without the council tax payer having to pay.

"Unfortunately Tesco's financial offer falls well short of the funding required to allow the facade to be used.

"Now that Tesco has made its decision, it is vitally important that we revert to an alternative design to ensure that we have a suitable interchange building in place before the reintroduction of the Borders Railway to the central Borders."

'Reasonable costs'

However, that version of events has been disputed by the supermarket firm as not being representative of their "private and confidential discussions".

A spokesman said they had been working towards giving the stone to SBC for free and covering "any reasonable costs".

He said they had thought those talks were "ongoing and moving closer to reaching an end point".

"When we built our new store in Galashiels we were asked to keep the stone and we did," he said.

"We thought we had a suitable location for it - if SBC no longer want the stone then we will dispose of it and find another good cause for the money.

"We are proud investors and significant employers in the Borders community and wish SBC every success with their transport project."

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