Some of the exciting ideas made in the community-led Tapestry Way Study will now be explored and developed further thanks to a £375,000 investment this financial year from local agencies, South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) and Scottish Borders Council (SBC).
The study was commissioned last year by Energise Galashiels Trust with support from SOSE and the Council.
It explored the best way to enhance Douglas Bridge and Channel Street to create a Tapestry Way – from the town’s Transport Interchange to the new Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor attraction, and around the town centre.
The study, which involved extensive consultation with local community representatives and members of the public, provided a series of findings on the current position of Galashiels, and recommendations to help continue the regeneration of the town centre.
These included the opportunity for Galashiels to become more service oriented and focussed on the local community first and foremost – particularly young people and family groups.
The study found that additional experiences within the town are vital to ensuring a more active and vibrant town centre to encourage local use as well as visitors.
The study also highlighted the need to re-develop some of the larger empty units with the report suggesting some imaginative and creative new uses. Early engagement and discussion with some of these property owners has been positive.
Building on the initial success of the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor attraction, the report also concluded the culture and heritage of Galashiels and its people should be promoted to enhance a sense of place, and that the town should be developed into a key visitor gateway to the Scottish Borders.
The opening Great Tapestry of Scotland in August 2021, along ongoing activity co-ordinated by partners within Galashiels town centre over the last three years, is starting to show positive signs.
There has also been direct investment in the town centre with a range of new businesses and enterprises setting up or expanding over the last 12 months. Encouragingly, local businesses are also reporting increased footfall and spend and a noticeable increase in visitors.
As part of the £375,000 investment, a series of creative and imaginative ‘quick win’ projects will also be taken forward, including further murals, overhead street lighting, child friendly statues and additional cycle racks and storage.
Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur visited Galashiels last month to see the progress made in the town, and to help launch the joint response from the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to the New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres.
The event – hosted in the Tapestry building jointly by the Scottish Government, Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) and SOSE – highlighted how collaboration and leadership are key to meeting the twin challenges of putting town centres first and tackling climate change.
Mike Gray, Chair of Energise Galashiels Trust, said:”We have already witnessed the completion of several regeneration projects in Galashiels town centre including a new mural on Douglas Bridge, a series of facade improvements on vacant properties on Channel Street, the development of Digital Gala with new town trails and also support for events such as Maroon’d in Gala and the recently launched Heartland Market.
“We now look forward to working with partners to develop more exciting improvements for Galashiels through the introduction of the Tapestry Way.”
SOSE’s Chair, Professor Russel Griggs said: “Through the hard work of community group Energise Galashiels Trust, and support of public, private and third sector organisations, we are starting to see shoots of recovery in Galashiels, with the opening of the Great Tapestry of Scotland Visitor Centre undoubtedly proving a catalyst for this change.
“The Tapestry Way Study looks to build on this early success, and on the strengths of the town, with everyone working togetherabsolutely crucial if we are to achieve this.
“SOSE is committed to supporting this journey in Galashiels, and to helping revitalise town centres across the South to become greener, vibrant and more inclusive places.”
Councillor Scott Hamilton, SBC’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this community-led regeneration activity in Galashiels, which is being primarily developed through engagement with the people of the town and with our key strategic partners.
“In all our Borders towns and communities we must ensure that we make the very most of the opportunities available to ensure these places thrive, support local people, businesses and also attract visitors and inward investment.”
Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur said: “I welcome progress on the Tapestry Way Action Plan, which can help continue the regeneration of the town centre.
“The Scottish Government recently launched a joint response to the Town Centre Action Plan Review in Galashiels.
“Galashiels and the Tapestry are an example of what can be achieved when partners work together to build on local assets, tell the story of a place and harness the pride that people have in their town centres.”
Click here to view a copy of the Tapestry Way Study.