Hall Street toilets, Innerleithen

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Closes 27 Jul 2021

Proposal to lease Hall Street toilets (disused), Innerleithen

 

The information contained on this, and the following pages, has been submitted by the Hub Community Interest Company.

 

Organisation

The Hub Community Interest Company

Type of organsation

Company SC642014

Property

Disused toilet block Hall Street, Innerleithen EH44 6QT 

Unique Property Reference Number

IN019/02 (c)

Proposal

The main objective of the project is to take the disused toilet block in Hall Street and repurpose it as a dedicated shower block, changing facility and bike wash.  The relaxation of lockdown restrictions from Covid-19 and school holidays have seen an influx of visitors to Innerleithen from the mountain biking community.  This has put a strain on resources in the town which were already stretched and insufficient to meet visitor numbers, particularly from the perspective of bike tourism.  We have found that this is also contributing to unrest and unhappiness in the town towards a demographic that is essential towards the economic development of the town and the wider Scottish Borders. Whilst tourism has been actively promoted in the area the infrastructure has been neglected and this is the cause of much frustration to the local community.  If we are, as is widely lauded, a centre for MTB excellence we must ensure that visitors have access to facilities that meet their expectations, failure to do so results in the issues we face now.

Benefits of the proposal

There have been a few incidents within the town that have caused the community unhappiness. Where these were once isolated and unusual, with the higher number of visitors, the incidents have increased.  There have been reports of people using the Tweed to wash both themselves and their bikes, getting changed in inappropriate places and a general lack of personal facilities needed in a town that has mountain biking as one of the main sources of its economy.  We are a Community Interest Company and we want to provide a solution, together with other local stakeholders and businesses, that will solve the issues the community have raised.  This project will immediately resolve much of the community's unhappiness with respect to bike washing in the rivers and the lack of appropriate changing facilities.  With the appropriate facilities it will not be necessary for these unwelcome practices to continue. It will also contribute to the town providing better visitor services overall in line with its role as a tourist destination.

Negative consequences

We do not expect there to be any negative consequences, except perhaps that the area in which the toilet block is located, Hall Street, may be slightly busier at a weekend. We hope to mitigate this by operating a token scheme for the changing facilities (tokens can be purchased at local shops; we have already consulted on this proposal with a favourable outcome). We plan on having an attendant at the bike wash to ensure time management and to maintain the area.

Capacity to deliver

We hope that the asset transfer can be applied for by The Hub CIC with management of the new facilities to be undertaken by Adrenalin Uplift, we have already discussed and agreed this.  The three of us have already collaborated in the implementation and staffing of an overflow car park in the town and in the acquisition of signs to be located around the town and so we are confident that with the support of the wider local community we are able to fulfil and manage this proposal.  The work that would need to take place would be carried out by local contractors who have already been approached and agreed.  We have discussed the management and running of the new facility with local business who have replied favourably and agreed to assist in the project.  We are in the process of conducting a feasibility study on new facilities in the town and so feel we are well placed to undertake the project as we have been researching proposals and how to implement them for the purpose of the study.

Level and nature of support

The Hub CIC have conducted a feasibility study funded by South of Scotland Enterprise (SoSE) to investigate the locations of new facilities for the town.  As part of this study, we have already started a community consultation, including an online survey, to identify specific issues.  The feedback has identified parking and changing facilities as one of the most urgent needs for the town with a bike wash noted also.  We have continued this consultation through to stakeholders and businesses in the town who have echoed these sentiments but also pledged support for any incentive suggested to tackle these needs.  We have also consulted with the Community Council and local Councillors who are supportive of our proposal.  We have already grouped together as a community to resolve some of the issues that have been faced with the increase in visitors.  The Hub CIC together with the Tweed Valley Bid and Adrenaline Uplift, worked together when the parking became an issue on Leithen Road. We approached a local landowner who kindly provided a field for overflow parking. We were able to speak with the Council who provided directional signs to the overflow car park, and it was manned by staff from Adrenaline Uplift. We have had informative signs made to be distributed for display in shop windows and erected at potential pinch points throughout the town.

Funding

We will apply for funding to carry out the necessary moderations to the building.  We plan on carrying out the work required using local tradespeople who have already been approached and have given a favourable view.  We expect that the toilet block once completed will self-fund as we plan on operating the block and bike wash on a token basis, the cost of which would be used for continuing maintenance on the block and the employment of an attendant to supervise over the weekend period. Any other revenue would be used towards further improvements in facilities for the community.