Major funding has been secured to revitalise the centre of Gorebridge and turn a disused building at Newtongrange railway station into a community space and bistro.
The Borders Railway Blueprint Programme agreed match funding of £1,038,000 for ‘Gorebridge Connected’ and a further £191,000 for the Newtongrange, Track2Train initiative. The Blueprint commitments bring the total amount to be invested in both projects from various sources to £3.4 million.
Prepared by the council in partnership with Gorebridge Community Development Trust (GCDT), Gorebridge Connected will see the former Gorebridge Railway Station House redeveloped into a cafe, gallery and office space, creating four to five full time jobs and 10-15 employment opportunities in the offices. It will also enable the development of a heritage and signage project to connect Hunter Square and Gorebridge train station.
Stephanie Walker, chair of GCDT said: “The realisation of the Gorebridge Connected project is wonderful news for the community. The trust set out with a small focus group two years ago to consider possibilities for the station house.
“Today, the ideas and creativity generated by this committed group of volunteers has come to life and will offer many opportunities for the whole community.”
The council is also working with Apex Scotland charity Track 2 Train to redevelop the Newtongrange station building into a community space, offering training opportunities for ex-offenders and those at risk of offending.
Humza Yousaf Minister for Transport and the Islands said: “The Borders Railway Blueprint Group vision of making Midlothian and the Scottish Borders great places to live, work, learn and visit is bearing fruit. This latest Scottish Government investment at Gorebridge and Newtongrange is clear evidence of this and demonstrates how multi-agency teams can bring transformational change to the communities served by the railway.”
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, Councillor Russell Imrie said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to get both of these projects over the line financially. An awful lot of people from both within the council and our partner agencies, including neighbouring authorities along the Borders Railway line and ScotRail, have worked extremely hard to tap into various funding sources.
“We’re keen now to get cracking and get these projects underway for the benefit of our local communities.”
Lindley Kirkpatrick, the ScotRail Alliance’s Borders Railway Programme Executive said: “The Borders Railway has been a huge success, forging closer links between communities in the Borders and Midlothian, as well creating a wealth of employment and tourism opportunities.
“We’re delighted that these projects will be going ahead, which will create opportunities and change lives here in Midlothian.”
The cafe will create four full time posts and five part time posts initially. Ten traineeship places will also be available with a focus on hospitality, customer service and the food industry.
The cafe will be on the ground floor of the building. Upstairs there will be office space, a learning centre, IT suite and a flexible meeting space for community groups.
The Chief Executive of Apex Scotland, Alan Staff said: “Apex Scotland is committed to providing the best possible opportunities for people to break free from their past and gain excellent employment and employability skills. Track2Train is our second major social enterprise venture joining All Cleaned Up in offering real jobs and on site training in a commercial setting, a model which we have seen deliver great results. We are so excited by the potential of the Newton Grange initiative not only in improving the life chances of those we work with but also enhancing the community and providing a valuable service to all.”