Galashiels is now looking to be the front-runner as the search to find a permament home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland continues.
The town’s case to host the tapestry has been strengthened by the Scottish Government welcoming the arrival of a rival to Tweedbank as a location for the proposed visitor centre.
It has also confirmed that it remains committed to investing up to £2.5m in the project so long as the business case for it is able to stand up to scrutiny.
A Government spokesperson said: “A further site in central Galashiels is now also being considered by Scottish Borders Council in tandem with the proposal for Tweedbank and could form part of an exciting regeneration project for the town.
“The Scottish Government has reaffirmed its support towards finding a home for the Great Tapestry in the Borders, and our funding commitment of up to £2.5m remains in place.
“We welcome the news that a further site in Galashiels is under consideration, and we are positive about the significant potential benefits that a Great Tapestry attraction could bring to the local area and the wider Borders.”
The tapestry’s trustees have also confirmed that they are happy to see an alternative location under consideration despite planning consent having aready been granted for the Tweedbank site and clearance work undertaken there.
Their chairman, Alastair Moffat, said: “My trustees are happy to look at that sympathetically, but we don’t have much detail yet. Work has only just begun.
“If that seems to be as good a, or a better, prospect, then of course we will consider it.”
“We own the tapestry, and we will do absolutely our best for the tapestry and all of the people who made it, so that is one of our principal concerns.
“I think Galashiels, if it pans out, could be a good solution.”
The old post office in Channel Street is rumoured to be the Galashiels site now in the running to provide a home for the tapestry, but Scottish Borders Council has declined to confirm that.
The former post office has previously been looked over and rejected by council officials, however.
The fate of the tapestry centre project will be decided at a council meeting in August – the three options on the table being to press ahead with plans for a proposed £6m purpose-built tourist attraction at Tweedbank, to opt for an alternative site in Galashiels town centre or to scrap the plans altogether.
The 469ft-long tapestry, designed by Andrew Crummy after being suggested by author Alexander McCall Smith, has not had a permanent base since its creation in 2013, but it has been exhibited, in part and in its entirety, all over the country during the last three years.
Almost 90 of its 160 panels were on show in Dundee until the middle of last month, but no further exhibitions are planned at the moment.
The tapestry – sewn by more than 1,000 volunteers in locations including Melrose, Smailholm, St Boswells, Selkirk, Coldstream, Tweedmouth, Hawick, Ednam, Gordon, Kelso, Jedburgh, Galashiels, Hawick, Tweedbank, Stow, Lauder and Duns – is billed as the longest of its kind in the world.
Planning permission was granted for the proposed Tweedbank site in October last year with a view to work starting in February.