A GROUNDBREAKING £1.7m project at Newlands has reached an agreement with SBC for the provision of funds to cover loan charges.

The Newlands Community Development Trust will use £20,000 of council money to allow the community hub project to proceed.

NCDT has already raised the money for the scheme, £999,363 from a Big Lottery grant and £858,000 from the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), but needs more financial flexibility by way of a bridging loan in order to pay contractors up front.

SRDP grant drawn procedures operate in arrears and on production of paid invoices only.

At Tuesday's Executive meeting the Council refused to consider an interest free facility of up to £300,000, to be drawn down as required and repaid accordingly.

Instead they agreed to cover the interest on a commercial loan. NCDT secretary, John Currie said: "Our problem arose from SRDP's priorities that they only pay out on receipt of paid invoices.

"This has led us to open up an overdraft facility so as to pay contractors and the Council have now kindly agreed to cover the interest on this.

"This is once again a sure sign of the willingness of Scottish Borders Council to work in partnership with communities." The entire project began back in 2003 when it was proposed that Newlands Primary be closed and its pupils transferred to West Linton Primary.

Campaigners stepped in to raise funds to save the 86-pupil school and create a new community facility, forming a community trust and amassing an incredible £1.7 million warchest.

A public consultation was held last night (Thursday April 29) at Blyth Bridge at which plans for the building were unveiled. Plans will now be submitted to the council by May 7.