Borders Railway failing to yield housing boost predicted for region

A Borders Railway service at Newtongrange.
A Borders Railway service at Newtongrange.

The coming of the Borders Railway has so far failed to yield a predicted boom in private housebuilding here – in stark contrast to the position in next-door Midlothian.

That compares to 347 such houses completed in 2015, 429 built in 2010 and 616 constructed in 2006.

The statistics also reveal that the number of private-sector housing starts in the Borders – 211 in 2016 – was the lowest since 1998 and below the 272 recordedin 2015.

In contrast, private-sector housing starts and completions in Midlothian were the highest since the statistics were first collected in 1996.

There were 847 such starts in the neighbouring local authority area last year, up from 593 in 2015, and 642 completions, up from 583.

Earlier this year, Scottish Borders Council agreed to borrow £7.7m to pay off its residual debt to Transport Scotland as its share of the railway’s construction cost

The council is hoping to recoup that cash, plus £1.3m in interest, by levying so-called developer contributions – currently set at £1,700 per house – from private-sector housebuilders in those areas deemed to benefit most from the railway such as Galashiels, Melrose, Selkirk and Lauder.

The council’s original outline business case for the Borders Railway contained an assumption that 7,500 new homes attracting the rail levy would be built by 2038.