South Scotland

Hawick and Galashiels town centre revival pilot impact 'fairly limited'

Galashiels Image copyright James Emmans
Image caption The pilot scheme was found to have limited impact on the town centres

A year-long project to "revitalise and reinvigorate" two Borders town centres has had a "fairly limited" impact, a report has found.

Revised planning criteria were introduced in Hawick and Galashiels to allow a wider range of property uses.

However, only a small number of applications were received - with few of them benefitting from the change.

A report to councillors concluded it was "unlikely" the scheme would have affected footfall in the towns.

The pilot scheme was introduced last year to allow a "more flexible approach" to planning applications.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The project could be continued until a new local development plan is introduced

It came after studies showed significant reductions in footfall across the region and significant town centre shop vacancy rates.

The council agreed to allow a wider range of businesses to operate in Hawick and Galashiels.

The report found that only 15 planning applications were submitted during the trial period and most of those approved would have been given the green light under the previous system.

It said that meant its impact had been "fairly limited".

Footfall studies have not yet concluded for this year but it was thought that the effect on numbers would have been small.

It is being recommended that the project should be continued, at least until a town centre retail policy is confirmed in a new local development plan.

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