A project to transform a disused building at Newtongrange railway station into a community space and bistro welcomed its first VIP guest on Monday.
The Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, visited the Track2Train initiative to find out more about how the £934,000 project, due to open in January, will help revitalise the village.
The venture is part of a major funding package of £3.4 million, including an investment by the Borders Railway Blueprint Programme, to ensure the railway corridor areas of Newtongrange and Gorebridge are a great place in which to work, live and visit.
Mr Wheelhouse MSP said: “It’s great to see regeneration happening and the delivery of the Blueprint Programme. This is a lovely old building being restored. The spacious interior and café will be a real boon, improving the quality of life for those using the service. Projects like this will also help make Newtongrange, which has a great heritage, even more attractive for people to live here and visit. I also really liked the aspect of the project that is helping people to build their skills. Congratulations to all partners involved.”
Multiple agencies are helping bring the project to fruition, including the Scottish Government, Abellio ScotRail, Midlothian Council and Track2Train, a charity established by, and closely associated with, Apex Scotland.
Apex Scotland works with people who have barriers to employment and are at risk of offending.
The project will initially create the equivalent of 6.5 full-time posts, paid at the Living Wage.
Ten traineeship places will also be available with a focus on hospitality, customer service and the food industry.
The downstairs area will incorporate a takeaway and bistro, the Sidings, which will be open from 7am until 10pm.
Upstairs there will be office space, a learning centre, IT suite and a flexible meeting space for community groups.
Apex Scotland’s sustainable development co-ordinator Dodie Piddock said: “It was wonderful to be able to show the minister how the project is progressing. We are looking forward to opening in January, giving us the opportunity to create jobs and serve local people.”