Edinburgh Napier University is a partner in the project to transform a former mill in the Borders

Date posted

20 April 2023


A project to transform Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen into the new Mountain Bike Innovation Centre has secured planning permission.

The collaboration between Edinburgh Napier University (ENU), South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) and Scottish Borders Council (SBC) will offer new teaching and research opportunities, as well as supporting businesses to develop innovative products and services, or even train and test athletes within the mountain biking and cycling sector. 

Together with the proposed Tweed Valley Bike Park and Trail Lab near Innerleithen, the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre is a key development for the South of Scotland and will be funded as part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

The UK Government is investing £19million into the project. This is part of its £265m investment in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, along with the Scottish Government investment of £85m in the Deal. The Innovation Centre is predicted to contribute £141m in Gross Value Added (GVA) and create over 400 jobs in the South of Scotland over ten years. Mountain Bike Innovation Centre artist's impression

SOSE completed the purchase of The Caerlee Mill site last year and have been working hard with partners to secure planning permission for the change of use and building renovation.

Hub South East Scotland have been appointed as delivery partner and Morrison Construction will undertake all building works. Preparation works to ensure the site is safe and secure will take place in the coming weeks, ahead of full works beginning this summer.

The Innovation Centre will allow Scottish, UK and international companies a place to showcase their products in the heart of the UK's leading mountain bike destination.

In addition, 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.

Mountain biking continues to grow in the Tweed Valley, with Glentress Forest being one of the hosts for 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships this summer.

Professor Nick Antonopoulos, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice Principal of Research & Innovation at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “We are excited by the opportunities the new centre will bring, and welcome the prospect of construction getting underway.

“This is a positive step towards a facility which will offer a strong platform for research across a wide range of academic fields – allowing us to build on the ground-breaking work already taking place at the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland.

“We look forward to continuing Edinburgh Napier University’s commitment to supporting bike innovation during what will be a significant year for cycling in Scotland.”Mountain Bike Innovation Centre

SOSE Chair, Professor Russel Griggs, said: “We are delighted to have secured planning permission for this hugely exciting project for Innerleithen, the Tweed Valley and the South of Scotland.

“This represents an important milestone and we can now start on-site construction works to deliver a world class innovation centre, bringing jobs, opportunity and growth to Innerleithen and the surrounding area.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said: "It is fantastic that the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre has received planning permission.

"The Innerleithen centre will bring jobs and investment to the region creating a world class Innovation Centre that will attract riders from across the country and beyond.

"The UK Government is supporting the project with £19million investment as part of the £265million Borderlands Growth Deal."

Councillor Scott Hamilton, SBC’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said: “The development of this world-leading facility in the South of Scotland, the home of the bike, is absolutely fantastic for the area and our economy.

“This builds on this area’s strengths and our existing reputation as a leading cycling destination, with some of the best mountain bike trails in the world, and will create a significant number of jobs and long term investment.”

Eileen MacKin, Hub South East’s Project Director, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this innovative project which sees the renovation of Caerlee Mill, establishing it as pioneering and sector leading within the mountain biking sector, just as it once was within the textile industry.

“Achieving planning permission is a key milestone for the development and we look forward to working with our partners and contractor, Morrison Construction, to make these exciting plans a reality.”