More than half a million pounds is to be provided to fund the regeneration of a Lothians town ahead of the Borders Railway link arrival in two years’ time.
Gorebridge, in Midlothian, will see enhancements to its historic high street ahead of the new station being built.
Improvements to shop fronts, signage, lampposts and the wider public realm is expected to be the focus of the £548,000 expenditure.
The Borders Railway – running between Tweedbank and Edinburgh Waverley – is set to be completed next year, although the operation date has been set for summer 2015.
The Scottish Government awarded the funds, handed to local authorities to encourage regeneration, as part of investment in towns and villages with a “historic heartland”.
At least 600 homes are planned for Gorebridge and more in the wider area. Demand from those wishing to live in the country and commute to the Capital, which would take around 25 minutes, is expected to be considerable.
Fiona Hyslop, the Culture Secretary and External Affairs Secretary, announced the funding during a visit to Dalkeith, which benefited from the same round of funding in 2008.
Ms Hyslop said: “It has been a great privilege to see first hand how this investment programme is continuing to benefit communities such as Dalkeith across Scotland.
“Our historic environment plays a key role in communities and this funding provides an opportunity to invest back into the historic fabric and back into the heart of communities.
“It also provides the opportunity to help stimulate economic regeneration.”
Dalkeith was awarded £402,638 and since then the funding has provided improvements to the streetscape on the High Street, repairs to several key buildings including the Tollbooth and the Cross Keys Hotel, a former coaching inn, and small grants to home owners and shop keepers.
Alan Paul, 42, who owns WD Paul Funeral Directors on Main Street in Gorebridge, said: “There’s going to be a lot of families looking to move here when the new station is up and running – there’s a thousand homes near us planned already.
“If we could improve the look of the area – shop fronts, for example – that would be great. We also like to see some simple improvements like plants on the main street and in general a sprucing up of the area.”
Gorebridge is one of eight stops between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. The others include Brunstane and Newcraighall in east Edinburgh; Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange and Gorebridge in Midlothian; and Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank in the Borders.
Bob Constable, leader of Midlothian Council, which will distribute the funds, said: “Gorebridge is a tremendous example of a small town with an almost intact 19th century historic core and I’m sure the new project will bring a huge number of benefits.”