Coldstream Business Park is lying unused and unfinished and the local community council has demanded answers from Scottish Borders Council about its future.
A review of industrial unit provision in the region revealed a lack of suitable business land in a number of towns, including Coldstream. Sites were identified, including land owned by Lennel Estate on the outskirts of Coldstream, and a 7.2 hectare site was made the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order.
Despite opposition from some local people when the site was a late entry in the Borders Local Plan it remained in the plan and EU funding was successfully sought for providing the infrastructure for the new business park. Since then there have been repeated delays on work on the business park - Scottish Water insisting a ‘Water Impact Assessment’ should have been carried out before work started, “delayed progress for many months”.
Brian McGrath, Scottish Borders Council’s economic development chief officer, added; “There were further delays caused by other utility companies, which was the main reason for the lack of completion and the decision to reduce the scope of works on the site in March 2014.”
Landscaping, which formed part of the planning application, has still not been done but Mr McGrath said: “This landscaping planting scheme has a budget, tenders were received and a contractor appointed, and work will be commenced this month, for completion in April 2016.”
As for marketing the business park Mr McGrath explained: “Although the site may look to be available for businesses, there are still some outstanding snagging, and both utility installation and landscaping are still being undertaken.
“We will increase our promotion and marketing of the plots following completion of these minor works.
“I can confirm that we do still take inquiries and provide information to prospective businesses that approach us, even when sites are still under construction. We intend to add in the availability and size of plots onto our web site, and this will be done shortly.
“Signage promoting the availability of the site is being prepared and will be erected in due course.”
A key condition of the EU funding is that the business park creates new jobs for the area - the target is 48 - and Scottish Borders Council will not sell any of the plots to a business that won’t be providing new jobs.
“This is because the council is reluctant to put the EU grant funding that we received at risk by failing to achieve employment growth target,” added Mr McGrath.
“This is an important strategic investment to support the future growth of businesses in Coldstream.
“The town now has six development plots, totalling 1.7 acres of new serviced business land.
“The physical hardworks were delivered within the timescale set by the EU, secured around £270,000 of EU grant, built with the budget approved by the council and provided a new business park, in an attractive screened environment, able to be readily extended in the future.”