PLANS TO re-develop the Newtown St Boswells Auction Mart have been approved by Scottish Borders Council.

Mart operators the H and H Group stressed that the plan had a modernised livestock market at its heart, but underused land around it would be turned over to residential and retail use.

"Since 1871 Newtown St Boswells has grown around its mart and now, 150 years later, the mart site will continue to be integral to the ongoing prosperity of the town," said H and H. "The Mart remains at the centre of this development and instead of coming through the town, it is the intention that all mart traffic will access directly from the A68."

This is not a brand-new initiative – the mart land has been earmarked for development for almost 15 years – and the plans to create 'a new town centre', featuring retail and leisure facilities, as well as a much-needed residential development of mixed and affordable housing and apartments, have reportedly been met with considerable approval from local people.

H and H chief executive Richard Rankin said: “This is a significant milestone, and the first step on a long ladder for the regeneration of the town of Newton St Boswells. I would like to thank the local community, the farmers who use the market and everyone involved in the project today for their continued support since its inception.

“This development has been on pause for nearly three years and today is a fantastic step forward in the right direction. It means we can now have strong conversations and open discussions about what happens next in creating access to the site, and can start taking early steps towards developing affordable housing and a major retail outlet on sites.

“Our aim has always been to future-proof the mart and to create a mixed-use site with maximised output and economic regeneration," said Mr Rankin. "It is about collaboration with a range of sectors to create jobs, affordable housing, and to meet local demands and the needs of the next generation.”

Managing director Scott Donaldson said: “We are absolutely delighted at today’s decision, as it is one which is so important to farming across the Borders. This will ensure it meets the needs of modern-day cattle and sheep sales and livestock trading. Now requiring modernization, our intention is for it to become one of the most cutting-edge marts in Scotland.”

The new mart plans provide two new bays of covered pens (circa 2000 sq m), a new office for H and H staff and for interaction with customers, a new canteen, two new multi-species auction sale rings, new car parking, and delivery and servicing accommodation if there was a demand from companies or organisations concerned.

Mr Rankin added: “We believe that the development will not only benefit the mart, but also grow Newtown St Boswells as the centre of the rural community it serves. We will be continuing to conduct ongoing dialogue with the local community on the plans, as this ambition to create a centre of excellence for rural services in the Scottish Borders starts to come to fruition.”