Page last updated at 11:19 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Sir Walter Scott's home upgrade views sought

Abbotsford House - artist's impression
Public opinion is being sought on the plans to create a new visitor centre at Sir Walter Scott's former home at Abbotsford in the Borders

Public opinion is being sought on a proposed £10m upgrade of Sir Walter Scott's former home in the Borders.

Efforts are currently under way to transform Abbotsford House near Melrose into a top quality visitor attraction.

Pre-planning talks have started with community councils and a larger public consultation event is also planned.

Tony Taylor of the Abbotsford Trust said it wanted "as much feedback as possible" before submitting its plans to Scottish Borders Council.

All the proposals for the historic building depend on the trust raising the necessary funds to take them forward.

Sir Walter Scott lived at Abbottsford in the Borders
Repair and restore property and develop landscape
Create six-bedroom visitor accommodation
Conserve collections and add new interpretation facilities
Create new learning suite for schools and other groups
Build new visitor centre including shop and cafe

A final application for a grant of more than £4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund will be submitted later this month with a decision expected in May.

Should the funds be raised and final plans approved, the trust hopes works could start this year and be completed in early 2013.

Mr Taylor said that community input was vital for the scheme.

"This is an exceptionally important project which aims to create a legacy for one of the region's most important sons and through this, to help to attract more visitors to the area," he said.

"It's an enterprise in which all Borders residents have a stake so we want to get as much feedback as possible before putting our final plans forward to SBC."

He said the goal was to develop a "financially viable, world-class visitor attraction".

However, he said it was important to create something "very special" due to the "immense competition" from other parts of the country.

"In Scott and Abbotsford, we have a globally famous asset here in the Borders," he said.

"We believe it's time to capitalise on that and establish Abbotsford as a heritage tourism focal point for the region from which we can all benefit.

"The support of the Borders public is crucial and we look forward to hearing their views."

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