New leasing arrangements have been agreed to keep the restoration of Gorebridge Station, due to be completed in early 2020, on track.
At last week’s full council meeting, councillors agreed to delegate authority for signing the 20 year lease with Network Rail to the council’s acting director of resources, who could sign the sub-lease with Gorebridge Development Trust.
The move comes after councillors heard leasing arrangements were taking longer than first anticipated. Not having a long-term lease in place between Network Rail and the council could potentially mean the loss of a grant of £199,981 from the EU and Scottish Government funding stream, Tyne Esk LEADER.
Restoring the station building is one of three Gorebridge Connected projects,, a partnership initiative with agencies including the council, Network Rail and the trust, with support from the Scottish Government Borders Railway Blueprint Programme and the Railway Heritage Trust, to improve the centre of Gorebridge and the former train station building. There are three main elements: street improvements to Hunter Square; improvements to the main street and creating a heritage trail; as well as turning Gorebridge Station into a community café, gallery and offices.
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, Councillor Russell Imrie (Lab) said: “The public realm works at Hunter Square are finished and look terrific, and the restored station building will also be a real asset to the community when finished. We want to make sure therefore that leasing arrangement delays don’t hold up progress on the station building itself.
“It makes sense to delegate authority for signing the leases to the acting director of resources. This will keep the restoration work on schedule and ensure the project can access LEADER funding because the grant offer requires a long-term lease to be in place in order to be able to access it.”
Councillors also heard that Gorebridge Connected has funding for a project manager post for a two year period for the restored station building. The council is preparing a funding agreement for Gorebridge Community Development Trust for this post that will give the council influence on the recruitment and control of payments for its cost.