PLANS to make Innerleithen the mountain bike mecca of Europe will move up a gear this month when consultants reveal their findings on proposals for a bike park and innovation centre.

Project organiser’s firmly believe the town “is the best place” for the facilities, and Innerleithen community leaders are backing their ambitious plans.

The historic Caerlee Mill has been identified as one of the potential sites for re-development to create the innovation centre, but organisers say funding could put the brakes on is being considered.

A successful public meeting to unveil the plans was held earlier this year, but some locals hoped for more answers over the future of the mill site.

Project co-ordinators Professor Geraint Florida-James and Ed Shoote updated members of Innerleithen Community Council on Monday on how the plans were progressing.

They acknowledged that the consultants at the public meeting were dealing with the development of the bike park, which explained why there were “unanswered questions” regarding the potential development of the mill.

Leading academic from the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland, Professor Florida-James said: “The part that wasn’t discussed in great detail at that point - I think at this point we’re are not trying to get hopes up and people thinking that it is definitely going to be the mill.

"The focus is on an innovation centre and for it to potentially be in this location.”

The project is currently going through the scrutiny process by consultants and there are three options under consideration.

The status quo remaining the same with resources based at Glentress meaning no expansion or development; the second is to develop Caerlee Mill which would include a space for community-based businesses; and the third and cheaper option is to build a new standalone innovation centre, which could be based anywhere near the existing and potential trails.

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland’s Ed Shoote explained: “In terms of the mill building, because it's not a purpose-built building from scratch it’s not quite the shape and size that you’d want, so then you’ve got spaces you need to fill and that’s where the community uses would fit into that building really well.

"If you are building from scratch you’d build it exactly for an innovation centre so you wouldn’t necessarily get a nursery space and some of the other community spaces.”

An architect’s impression of how the mill building could look was revealed at the public meeting in January.

Professor Florida-James added: “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to that building to be able to design an innovation centre.

"It boils down to the question, is there enough innovation that can be brought into it? The answer to that is yes.

"With the other businesses that could potentially go in there from the community side of it, this might be the thing that tips it over into being a positive option choice.”

The Innerleithen project is part of the ongoing Borderlands Growth Deal aiming to boot the economy of southern Scotland and northern England

Mr Shoote said: “It could be that they recommend the mill building in the consultant’s report, but Borderlands funding comes in and the civil servants dismiss it as too expensive to do, because a new build would be cheaper and there’s a number of plots of land in the area that could be used for it.”

There is a risk that even if the consultant’s report comes back showing the mill as the most desirable option, it may not be possible with the funding that comes in for the project.

Mr Shoote added: “I think there’s a listed building like that standing that we don’t think is profitable to turn into residential units or many other uses, so it needs some kind of public grant to get that into a state that can be used and this is a very good opportunity for that grant to come into play.”

Chairman of the Community Council Marshall Douglas said: "There is a lot of goodwill in the community for the project” and added that people in Innerleithen want to see the town as a centre for these facilities.