Ian Johnson: The railway's impact on Midlothian
The Borders Railway has been about so much more than simply transporting commuters up to Edinburgh or allowing tourists to access the beautiful landscapes and historic sights further south. The railway has been about stimulating the economy of the central Borders and the surrounding area. Transport links are key when it comes to growing a business – as the three local authority leaders discuss in their blog posts.
Ian Johnson, Head of Communities and Economies at Midlothian Council, explains how a range of projects will help to make the most of the area’s growing popularity.
Midlothian has the fastest growing population in Scotland, with the number of people predicted to live in the area increasing by 26% over the next quarter of a century.
There is evidence already that the Borders Railway is influencing decisions to move to the area and their choice of workplace.
More than 50% of users who had moved house and over 80% of those who moved employment since the reopening of the line stated that the railway had been a factor in their decision.
Midlothian Council and its partners, including the neighboring authorities, Network Rail and the Scottish Government, are committed to maximising the economic potential the railway and the growing population will bring.
A number of initiatives are already underway, each with the potential to transform communities.
Work is ongoing to finalise funding arrangements for a multi-million pound project to regenerate and improve the area of Gorebridge in and around the station and along the High Street.
A £785,000 scheme to turn a disused building at Newtongrange railway station into a hub with a bistro, training kitchen, learning centre and business space is progressing well.
The Track 2 Train cafe will create four full time posts and five part time posts initially. Ten traineeship places will also be available with a focus on hospitality, customer service and the food industry.
The cafe will be on the ground floor of the building. Upstairs there will be office space, a learning centre, IT suite and a flexible meeting space for community groups.
Meanwhile, after successful public consultations, masterplans are being finalised for Newtongrange town centre and the nearby Stobhill and Lady Victoria Business Centre.
Other projects include setting up a Business Improvement District in Dalkeith, an offer of loans up to £100,000 for businesses along the Borders Railway Corridor as part of Business Loans Scotland and an initiative to improve access routes to and from the stations for cyclists and walkers.
With so much on offer, Midlothian is making sure a warm and prosperous welcome awaits everyone who decides to make the county their home.