Tapestry recommended for Galashiels site with £2.5million Scottish Government support confirmed

section of tapestry showing stitched leaves

Published: Friday, 09th December 2016

Councillors will be recommended to select Galashiels as the home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland in a report to be discussed on Thursday 22 December.

Since February 2016, we have been working in partnership with the Scottish Government and other partners in the Borders Railway Blueprint programme to consider the best location for housing the Tapestry in the region. The support of the Great Tapestry of Scotland Trustees has been essential during this process.

A new site in Galashiels emerged earlier in the year which was not available when the original assessment of the town was carried out, and significant work has since been undertaken to look at Galashiels in conjunction with the original Tweedbank site.

Due Diligence

The due diligence process has now been completed, and it summarises that

  • ‘The Galashiels option has the potential to deliver a successful tourism and regeneration proposition in a way that the Tweedbank option does not.
  • ‘The Galashiels proposal provides the opportunity for additional education and community use that is not a feature of the Tweedbank proposal.
  • 'Furthermore, the Galashiels site benefits from a significant degree of community support and is consistent with the Scottish Government’s Town Centre First Principle in relation to place-making and regeneration.’

The Scottish Government has also confirmed that its previous £2.5million funding pledge will be available for the Galashiels project, if Elected Members approve Galashiels as the chosen destination at the Council meeting on 22 December.

Councillor David Parker

“The Great Tapestry of Scotland is of national and international importance and siting it in the Scottish Borders will create a world-class tourist attraction.

“The Galashiels proposal now being recommended was not available for consideration when the Tapestry project commenced, but earlier this year, due to the former Poundstretcher site becoming vacant and positive discussions with Royal Mail, an affordable and deliverable site in Galashiels has been identified. 

“The site in Galashiels will benefit from enhanced support from a range of funders and the site provides greater accommodation with more flexibility for the Tapestry and other exhibits and facilities.

“The town centre site will have a significant regeneration impact on Galashiels and will bring many benefits to nearby local businesses.

“Although both the Tweedbank and Galashiels sites have their advantages, there can be no doubt that after careful consideration Galashiels offers the greatest potential to provide a world class attraction which will make a significant contribution to the Borders economy.”

“Elected Members will consider a very robust business case and due diligence report at the Council meeting on 22 December when a final decision on the Tapestry can be made. 

“With tourism being a critical economic growth area for the Borders and with the Tapestry situated in the town centre, close to the new Borders Railway and benefiting from excellent road links, a really exciting and special tourist attraction can be delivered.”

Councillor Stuart Bell Executive Member for Economic Development

“If approved by Councillors, the Tapestry will help generate tourism and promote economic development in our area.

“While both sites have been thoroughly considered, Galashiels has been recommended because it offers the opportunity to develop a significant regeneration project for the centre of the town, with additional educational and community uses.

“The Galashiels proposal is in line with the Scottish Government’s Town Centre First Principle, which encourages the public sector to continue to invest in town centres and help communities thrive, and also has significant support in the local community.”

Mike Gray, Chairman of Energise Galashiels

“Galashiels as the home of the Great Tapestry of Scotland would be a game-changing boost to the town.

“This investment, if Councillors decide to approve, will provide a wonderful and unique attraction and will regenerate the ‘old town centre’ which is suffering from the impact of the massive changes in retailing.

“Energise Galashiels is delighted to see the Town Centre First Principle in action and welcomes the support from the Scottish Government.

“It would create opportunities to expand on existing attractions such as Old Gala House and establish the town as a visitor destination, building on our heritage of textiles and textile design.

“The Tapestry would leverage investment already made in the Borders Railway and the infrastructure to transport visitors across the Scottish Borders, thus enhancing tourists’ experience of the region.

“Galashiels, as the home of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, has pan-Borders support from organisations such as Destination Scottish Borders and Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership as well as Galashiels Community Council, Galashiels Chamber of Trade, MacArts Centre and Galashiels Healthy High Streets.”

Co-Chairman of the Tapestry Trustees, Alistair Moffat

“After more than 40 years in and around public life in Scotland, from running the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to being Director of Programmes at STV, I have been looking at audiences for a long time.

“But I have never seen anything like the reaction on the faces of the people who see the Great Tapestry.

“Much more than a beautifully embroidered object, the power of this great work of art is immense, emotional, funny and quintessentially Scottish. People weep and laugh as they make their way around the story of our nation – and the story of themselves.

“It would be wonderful if the Great Tapestry could tell the great sweep of the history of Scotland in Galashiels.”

The report to be considered by Councillors on 22 December will be available on 15 December.

Background

We announced in June 2016 that a new opportunity had arisen to consider the location of the Tapestry in an alternative development in central Galashiels, having previously agreed to house the Tapestry in Tweedbank.

If approved, the Galashiels proposal would see the town’s Post Office building brought back into use and the former Poundstretcher building demolished and a new build erected, with a connection made between the two.

The report on 22 December will be taken in public.