A Mountain Bike Innovation Centre is to be created in Innerleithen after a deal was struck for the purchase of Caerlee Mill.
Terms were agreed by the South of Scotland Enterprise on behalf of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal for the purchase of the building.
Scottish Borders Council said the creation of the centre is a ‘key development’ for the south of Scotland, with it anticipated to contribute £141 million in gross added value and create over 400 jobs over ten years.
The Caerlee Mill site, which is being purchased from Whiteburn Caerlee LLP, was previously identified as the preferred location for the Innovation Centre. Plans will now be moved forward to renovate the building, with a planning application expected to be submitted in spring 2022.
The local authority said the Innovation Centre will allow Scottish, UK and international companies to develop innovative products and services, or even train and test athletes within the mountain biking and cycling sector. It will also offer a place for businesses to showcase their products in the heart of one of the UK’s leading mountain bike destinations.
In addition, the council said that the renovation of the listed Caerlee Mill for commercial use will help preserve an important building for the local community and for Scotland’s industrial heritage.
The second element of the project will see Tweed Valley Bike Park and Trail Lab created in what is thought to be a global first in terms of combining tourism and innovation. The adventure bike park will attract and sustainably manage visitors to the Scottish Borders.
Councillor Mark Rowley, leader of Scottish Borders Council and Borderlands Partnership Board member, said, “The purchase of Caerlee Mill for the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre is an important milestone. It means we can now move ahead with our exciting plans to build on the already well-established reputation of the Tweed Valley as one of the world’s top mountain biking destinations.
“This project also supports one of our core strategic themes for the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, of supporting business, innovation and skills across the region, which will in turn stimulate business growth and create a more diverse regional economy.”
The UK Government is investing £19 million into the project, as part of its £265 million investment in the Borderlands inclusive growth deal, along with the Scottish Government investment of £85 million in the deal.
UK Government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart added, “This is a significant milestone for creating the world’s first Mountain Bike Innovation Centre which will strengthen the Borderlands’ reputation as a superb location for the sport. Many people visit the region every year for its stunning scenery, rich history, and wealth of outdoor activities.”