Council bosses are reassuring Hawick townsfolk that their purchase of the former Bruce Motors site will not put paid to any plans for a new fast-food outlet there.
Scottish Borders Council’s Hawick flood protection scheme team has bought the Commercial Road site and plans to demolish the former car showroom by Christmas.
Council bosses have been quick to offer assurances that any work on the site, required as an access route during a planned six-month closure of Commercial Road next year, will be carried out bearing in mind the proposed fast-food outlet, however.
It intends to demolish the garage using a building warrant granted to Edinburgh firm Image Estates Queen Street for its proposed development, tipped to include a McDonald’s burger bar and a relocated B&M Bargains store.
A council spokesperson said: “The scheme is aware of the proposed Image Estates development and has developed its designs to avoid any possible impact on it.”
That assurance has been welcomed by Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, and he has hailed the sale as a “major step forward” for the £44m river defences project.
“This is a key site that will assist in keeping the local businesses open during the construction of the scheme,” he said.
“It also creates a business opportunity with interest from McDonald’s for the construction of a fast-food outlet.
“That is still, though, being tempered by a quite ridiculous objection from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency that hopefully will ultimately be overcome when common sense is applied.”
The garage, closed since last November, sits between Commercial Road’s Sainsbury’s and Aldi stores and right in the middle of where the scheme team needs to build a new access road to the stores scheduled to be in use from February to August 2020.
The council spokesperson added: “The scheme requires to carry out major civil engineering works at Commercial Road.
“During the main works contract, a section of Commercial Road between Sainsbury’s and Laing Terrace will be fully removed to allow construction of the new flood wall. Thereafter, the A7 trunk road will be fully rebuilt behind the new flood wall along this section.
“The utility diversions at Commercial Road are the most complex required by the scheme, which is why they are being undertaken at the end of the programme of works, with significantly more design and planning being undertaken in advance.
“Due to spatial constraints, the utility diversions along this stretch of Commercial Road, and specifically at the Bruce Motors building, will require to run through the front of the garage. The new access road will run through the rear of the building.
“The traffic management plan has been developed to ensure full access is available to all businesses at all times and to achieve minimal to no disruption.”
Once the flood scheme is finished with the land, and should the council go on to sell the site to the developer in question, it is believed the town’s existing B&M Bargains store will relocate from Croft Road, and a McDonald’s will complete the new development.
Conor Price, senior project manager for the flood protection scheme, added: “We will only purchase land or demolish buildings where is it absolutely critical for the delivery of the Hawick flood protection scheme.”
“All such land purchases are authorised under the scheme’s land strategy, which is managed by the scheme’s land and legal working group.”