Next milestone passed for regeneration of Galashiels

section of tapestry showing stitched leaves

Published: Thursday, 30th November 2017

Planning permission has been granted to create a new home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels – the first step towards regenerating the town.

The permission allows the project to begin work next year to convert the former Post Office and demolish the former Poundstretcher building.

It is anticipated the £6.7m project will open in spring 2020 and will spark significant economic, social and educational benefits.

Facts and figures

  • A short walk from the Borders Railway, the centre is estimated to attract over 50,000 people to Galashiels each year once opened, as well as create 16 FTE posts at the facility.
  • In addition, almost £900,000 of extra spending per year is predicted for the local economy, supporting a further 17 FTE jobs.
  • As well as housing the Great Tapestry of Scotland - the 143 metre long community arts project which involved over 1,000 volunteers stitching the entire story of the country - there will be a number of other facilities in the centre.
  • These include facilities for visiting exhibitions, flexible space for education, learning and events and plans to have space for community and retail facilities including a café.
  • There are also plans to introduce interpretation and art installations across the town centre to direct passengers to the Tapestry from the nearby Galashiels train station, increasing footfall and spend in the town.

Councillor Mark Rowley, our Executive Member for Business and Economic Development

“The creation of a centre to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels is key to a long term strategy to regenerate the town.

“I see this as a hugely exciting opportunity and I'm convinced the centre will be a huge asset to Galashiels, helping us celebrate the town's considerable textile heritage and skills. It will provide many economic, social and education opportunities, and SBC and Live Borders will work hard with a range of local groups, such as Energise Galashiels, Borders College, Heriot-Watt University and community, arts and tourism groups to ensure it is a success for the whole community.

“It is a central element of the Borders Railway Blueprint programme which will raise Galashiels' profile significantly and being so close to Galashiels Transport Interchange, we expect it to encourage to more people to visit by train.

“With planning permission now achieved we hope to make swift progress next year including the removal of the former Poundstretcher building, which has become an eyesore in the town centre. Meanwhile, work continues to bring forward a masterplan which would underpin the much-needed regeneration throughout Galashiels."

Mike Gray, Chair of Energise Galashiels Trust

“Energise Galashiels is delighted that progress continues as planned with the new centre to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland and to create facilities for visiting exhibitions.

“This will be a major regeneration boost to our town centre and we hope it will lead to a return of retailers, attracted by the expected increase in footfall in Galashiels. This major development will establish Galashiels as a recognised visitor destination in the Scottish Borders.”

Alistair Moffat, of the Tapestry Trustees

“In more than 40 years in and around public life in Scotland, I have never seen anything like the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

“It is a cultural phenomenon that has inspired love, laughter and tears in the hundreds of thousands who have seen it.

“It is truly a national treasure, one that tells Scotland's story in a fresh yet traditional way, making it accessible to all ages and interests.

“For Galashiels, to have a national treasure with international appeal will be a huge step forward in the regeneration of the town as visitors come in their thousands. But perhaps most important, and something not said often enough, this is a beautiful work of great art and I am proud that its home will be in the Borders.”

More information

Images are available at our Flickr page.

The planning application is available.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland project already has funding of £2.5million from the Scottish Government, and the project team is making progress with a Regeneration Capital Grant Fund application to the Scottish Government.

The project will see 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 - created alongside the converted Post Office building.

Borders Railway Blueprint programme

The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre is part of the Borders Railway Blueprint programme which sets out how Scottish Borders Council and partners will capitalise on the opportunities presented by the new line.

More information on the Blueprint vision is available.

Great Tapestry of Scotland

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is a unique community arts project to stitch the entire story of Scotland.

It was the brainchild of renowned writer Alexander McCall Smith, historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy.

The Great Tapestry initially went on display at the Scottish Parliament, before touring around the country. An exhibition of the Tapestry in the Verdant Works in Dundee in 2016 has been credited with quadrupling visitor numbers to the museum on the same period in 2015, with the venue taking on additional staff to cope with the increased numbers.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is 143 metres long and has 160 panels.

It was created by more than 1,000 volunteer stitchers who spent in excess of 50,000 hours on the Tapestry.

Further information is available.