A review of the impact of the Build a Better Gala 3 Project was published recently as Energise Galashiels Trust embarks on the final year of the 4-year town regeneration initiative.
As part of the project, funded by South of Scotland Enterprise and Scottish Borders Council, the Trust commissioned the review of the third year’s work. Build a Better Gala 3 covered a diverse programme of activity, including awarding almost £50,000 of grants to local business owners to make improvements to commercial properties within the town centre, the installation of a new mural that attracted wide-spread comment and compliments, supporting a range of sporting, creative, and leisure events held in the town, and continued development of the Tapestry Way Study which includes an ambitious range of potential public realm developmental opportunities for the town.
Drawing on multiple market research sources, including a large-scale community survey and a local business owner discussion forum, the review identified clear evidence of a more positive feeling towards the town. While it acknowledged there continues to be a challenge with footfall and retail unit occupancy, it showed there is a positive impact from the work of the Build a Better Gala 3 project and general confidence for the future.
Recognising that town centre regeneration requires time and a committed partnership approach, the Trust’s focus is now on delivering the Build a Better Gala 4 project. In the final year, the Trust will build on much of the work of the previous 3-years, collaborating with those from within the Galashiels community and beyond on a range of activities, initiatives, and events.
Mike Gray, Chair of Energise Galashiels Trust, said: “The review of the Build a Better Gala 3 project recognises the positive impact the initiatives, activities, and events are having on our town centre; an impact that would not be possible without the on-going support from our partners and the continued commitment of our community.
“Our town centre looks and feels like a more vibrant place to visit, and we are pleased to see many new business start-ups choosing Galashiels as their preferred location, joining many existing businesses that are investing and growing. While there will always be a natural occurrence of business start-up and closure, we’re seeing moves in the right direction.”
Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of SOSE, said: “We know that town centre regeneration takes a lot of work, time, and commitment, all of which have been present in Galashiels with some fantastic progress made so far.
“All of the investment made – including the community events, Great Tapestry of Scotland Visitor Centre, gateway murals and town centre property improvements – have undoubtedly created a more vibrant Galashiels, with a growing range of local businesses now located there.
“While there is further work to do in coming years, we are confident that Energise Galashiels, with support of SOSE and Scottish Borders Council alongside local businesses and community, can continue to help transform the town.”
Councillor Scott Hamilton, SBC’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said: “This ongoing, community-led and collaborative work in Galashiels is a fantastic example of how organisations at the heart of our towns can drive positive change within their community with support and investment from the public sector.
“Without doubt, there are still challenges for Galashiels town centre, as there are with town centres across the country, but by working together, we stand a far better chance of tackling these and making the most of the many opportunities that exist. I look forward to seeing what Energise Galashiels Trust can continue to achieve in the final year of this project.”
Click here to read the report.