Planning rules changed to encourage town centre business


Published: Monday, 16th July 2018

We have made major changes to the rules governing change of use of commercial properties in town centres.

The measures - designed to encourage new investment in towns allowing them to adapt to the radical changes that are underway in the retail sector – were approved unanimously by our Planning Committee on Monday 16 July.

The changes were made to Core Activity Areas in town centres – designated zones where change of use from one type of business to another are restricted to preserve shop frontages.

What are the changes?

The new rules - being piloted for a year - will make it easier for different types of business to invest in town centre properties, with some restrictions scrapped altogether in Hawick and Galashiels and new guidance provided across the Borders to encourage change of use where it makes a positive contribution to the town.

The shift to online and out-of-town shopping has presented major challenges to high streets across Britain, an effect felt locally in towns throughout the region.

Tom Miers, Executive Member for Planning and Environment

“These changes will make it easier for new businesses to invest in our towns.

“We need to move with the times and recognise that high streets are shifting away from traditional retail towards a broader mix of leisure, business and specialist shopping.

“This pilot scheme will test new policies to help that process while preserving the essential character and vibrancy of our towns.

“Towns like Hawick, with its magnificent High Street, have enormous potential, and this Council is determined to unlock that and encourage new business, new life and new dynamism amidst the superb built heritage that we already enjoy.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, Executive Member for Business and Economic Development

“We hope the removal of restrictions in Hawick and Galashiels will create more opportunities in both town centres for a more diverse range of businesses attractive to residents and visitors alike. The initiative should support a number of exciting projects going ahead in both towns.

"In Hawick, we have the Action Plan which is starting to revitalise its economy and drive further inward investment and tourism.

“In Galashiels the Great Tapestry of Scotland complex is kickstarting the delivery of the Galashiels Masterplan - our ambitious vision to encourage investment in the town and the Borders economy from both the public and private sector and already investors are exploring exciting projects.”

Further information

Images are available at our Flickr page.

The Planning Committee report is available.