Plans to transform a former mining village with funding from Borders Railway investment could create more than 440 jobs and add £20 million to the community’s value, it has been revealed, as the community faces devastating cuts to services.
The village of Newtongrange could see almost 600 new homes added, along with new business and retail and the creation of a ‘town centre’ as part of its expansion.
However, a report outlining the benefits of two masterplans, created to take advantage of investment linked to the railway, will be presented to Midlothian Council on Tuesday, alongside a budget proposal which would see public services in the community close.
Councillors will be asked to approve plans to shut the village’s leisure centre and library as part of a string of cutbacks outlined by officers as the local authority tries to claw back a £7.4m shortfall in its budget for the coming financial year.
Protesters are expected to gather outside the council’s headquarters in Dalkeith on Tuesday as they meet to decide the fate of a wide range of local services.
They have proposed a swathe of cuts, including abolishing paid for musical instrumental tuition in schools altogether, closing schools, libraries and sports centres, and axing all of the county’s 52 school patrol wardens.
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North, has accused the council leader of creating “fear and alarm” in the county and dismissed his claims the cuts were caused by a shortfall on Scottish Government funding as “risible”.
And Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, which covers Newtongrange, said she was dismayed by the ‘swingeing cuts’ being imposed by the Labour-led administration.
Ms Grahame, SNP, said: “I understand why (council leader Councillor Derek Milligan) tries to pass the blame but the reality is that Midlothian Council under his leadership has failed the people of Midlothian – since 2017 there have been huge overspends.
“We cannot allow a growing Midlothian to become bereft of all its community resources and I will fight to keep libraries, community centres open, as will my SNP councillor colleagues.”
The update report on the Border Railway Group’s investment plans outlines the benefits on offer to Newtongrange from two masterplans which are described as well under way.
They are for the Stobhill and Lady Victoria Business Centre site and a Newtongrange Town Centre and could bring a mixture of just under 600 mixed tenure housing units, commercial, business and industrial space and additional community space.
The report said: “An independent estimate of the economic impact of the development of the Midlothian masterplans was carried out, and concluded the masterplans could deliver up to £20.2m Gross Value Added (GVA) and 447 jobs in Midlothian.”
In addition, there are plans underway to develop the former Newtongrange station building, which lies adjacent to a new building created for the railway, into a café, community building with a wide range of services from a learning centre to IT suites and meeting spaces with funding of £934,000 received.