Radical rethink needed for £29m Borders Innovation Park following decline in demand for office space

Credit: LDRS

Plans for a £29 million pound business park in the Scottish Borders will need to be looked at again following a decline in demand for office space.

The site close to Tweedbank railway station had been expected to create 380 well-paid jobs.

The initial phase of the Central Borders Innovation Park has involved construction of offices for CGI, the local authority’s IT providers, and for the Inspire Academy, another council-funded venture.

Proposals for the site were originally approved by Scottish Borders councillors in 2019. The proposals aimed to bolster the local economy to the tune of £350 million.

It had set to deliver 11,469 square metres of office space coupled with 3,350 square metres of industrial units - this meant more than 77% of the new buildings would be occupied by offices.

But now plans are being changed due as the anticipated demand for office space has been greatly reduced following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Next week, members at the Scottish Borders Council's Executive Committee will be informed by economic development officer Stuart Kinross that a full new business case now needs to be drafted to take into account that changing landscape.

Mr Kinross said: “The Borders Innovation Park at Tweedbank is a £29m capital programme, which includes a contribution of £15m from the City Region Deal, £5m from Scottish Borders Council, and £9m from other partners.

“A full business case was approved by council in January 2019 prior to being approved by the City Region Deal Joint Committee in March 2019.

"This business case envisaged a build-out of office and industrial space over three phases. The first building on the site, which is an office for the council’s IT provider, CGI, and an Inspire learning hub opened in 2022.

“However, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the anticipated demand for office space has been greatly reduced and there is therefore a need to re-configure the proposed programme.

"This will require the drafting of a revised full business case."

The revised plans is now expected to be presented to the council in November 2023, prior to it being considered for approval by the Joint Committee in December 2023.

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