Options mooted to fund park plan

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SCOTTISH Borders Council is to look into selling three possible sites at Wilton Lodge Park to fund regeneration plans.

But the proposals, which are at a very early stage, have received a mixed response from the town’s councillors.

In an email to all the local members, Philippa Gilhooly, project manager and SBC’s environment and infrastructure engineer, revealed that the three areas being considered for “potential marketability” are the allotment and grazing ground, the area of land behind the walled garden where the nursery is and the training pitch next to the pavilion.

She said: “No decision has been taken to sell these sites, nor are they being declared as surplus.

“We are merely planning to approach our selling agents to gauge the current market to see if there is an appetite for these parcels of land.”

The local authority is working on a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to regenerate the park, having pledged £50,000 in addition to a previous development grant of £100,000 from the HLF.

One of the requirements is to raise between £500,000 to £750,000 to match the HLF funding of potentially £3 million.

And it was revealed that they only have until next August to make sure they have a funding ‘vehicle’ in place.

Devised by the Friends of Wilton Lodge Park group, one of the main improvements would be the resurrection of a Victorian band stand – formerly situated near the Boer War Memorial at the tennis court end – in its original design.

The plans also include the building of a new bridge at the south entrance, the relocation of the tennis courts, new park gates and new seating in the original design.

While other proposals for the 107-acre park are expected to incorporate the restoration of the Boer War Memorial and the Macnee fountain, to extend the cafe and upgrade the Walled Garden.

Improvements to landscaping will likely be focused between the Laurie Bridge and the fountain.

However, ward member, Councillor Stuart Marshall has called for widespread discussions on proposals before any decision is made.

He said: “It really is important that the consultation exercise on this matter is used to the maximum.”

But fellow Hawick and Denholm councillor Jock Houston said early talks on the plans had received the backing of the public.

“Proposals for selling-off some peripheral areas of the Park, which some people do not know are part of it, have been fully explained-with maps given out at two public meetings in Hawick.

“There was a lot of support,” he said.

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