Tapestry visitor centre planning application submitted

The next step towards regenerating Galashiels has been made with the submission of a planning application to create the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre.

The proposed visitor attraction at the former Post Office and Poundstretcher buildings will be a catalyst for significant economic, social and educational benefits for Galashiels.

If approved, it is estimated that the £6.7million visitor centre would help employ 16 FTE posts, attract over 50,000 extra visitors to Galashiels every year and provide additional annual spending of almost £900,000 to the local economy, supporting a further 17 FTE jobs.

The project proposes converting the Grade B listed former Post Office building, complemented by a bespoke new building designed by architects Page and Park, who are currently leading the restoration of the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building.

The new attraction would include a permanent home for the Tapestry – a 143 metre long community arts project which involved over 1,000 volunteers stitching the entire story of Scotland - as well as temporary space for exhibitions, and flexible space for education, learning and events. In addition, the plans include space for community and retail facilities including a café.

The application also includes plans to introduce interpretation and art installations across the town centre, which would encourage visitors from the nearby Borders Railway to visit the Tapestry, as well as increase footfall and spend in Galashiels.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre already has funding of £2.5million from the Scottish Government, and the facility is at the centre of a Regeneration Capital Grant Fund application to the Scottish Government.

The project is being delivered in close partnership with all of the key local community organisations such as Energise Galashiels, creative and business groups, Heriot-Watt University and Borders College. It is only through this close working relationship that this exciting project can be jointly delivered.

Councillor Mark Rowley, SBC’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, said: “The submission of the planning application for the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre is the next step towards creating one of the most significant town centre economic development projects to take place in the Scottish Borders in recent years.

“If approved, the visitor centre will be more than a home for the Great Tapestry, but also provide educational, retail and community facilities to benefit a wide variety of groups.

“The visitor centre would also be the first stage of a long-term strategy to stimulate investment in the local economy, and it is pleasing that local groups are supportive of this approach.

“The Council and partners are committed to continuing to engage with these groups to ensure they remain at the heart of the regeneration of Galashiels.”

If approved, it is expected the visitor centre would be completed by spring 2020.