AN eyesore building in the centre of Jedburgh’s conservation area is set to be pulled down, writes Sally Gillespie.
Community councillors have welcomed the solution to the long-running problem, but they are concerned public money is being spent on the privately-owned edifice in High Street.
Members of Scottish Borders Council (SBC) are set to debate the issue at their planning meeting on Monday.
SBC officials say the derelict former electrical outlet and cafe should be demolished and hope councillors will approve development guidelines they’ve drawn up for a replacement building.
Community council chairman Richard Gordon said: “The building is an eyesore and it is very welcome that it could be demolished and replaced with something suitable and in keeping with the area. I think everybody would welcome that.
“But every effort must be made to recover as much of the costs to the council as possible, otherwise it gives carte blanche to anyone else to walk away and abandon a building.
“Public money has already been spent and there seems to be a suggestion that it might not be recovered, but the owners are surely responsible.
“There’s talk of another £100,000 odd to be spent on this. When budgets are very tight, I don’t see how people who own the building should be just allowed not to bear the costs. Demolition and replacement is far better than trying to do the building up. It’s been in a poor state of repair for years.”
SBC undertook a structural survey of the C-listed building, which dates back to the early 19th century, in 1997 and later went on to do remedial work to stabilise it.
Cracks appeared on it last year and the council stepped in to stop it collapsing and the scaffolding it set up is still in place.
Officials say in the proposed development guidance paper: “The condition of the building is such that it is probable that the only economically-viable option is to demolish it and redevelop the site.
“The building has been a ‘cause celebre’ locally since at least 2002 when the council was forced to act using building control powers by carrying out temporary propping and ultimately demolishing the rear wing.”
They say redeveloping the site would help by removing a “blight”, reopen the pavement and return lost car parking spaces into use (both closed because of the scaffolding) and help the local economy.
Officials said a registered social landlord had expressed interest in it as a gap site, but attempts to find a purchaser willing to restore the current building had so far been unsuccessful.
And the district valuer says the property is worth less than the local authority has already spent on it.
Yesterday an SBC spokesperson said the building’s two owners owed the council £115,000 which includes interest on the unpaid bill for council work and an administration charge. They added that the council would get some of the money back when the building was sold and that it would go through the usual debt recovery process to get the rest of the money if it wasn’t possible to recoup it through negotiation with the owners.
“People in Jedburgh will be glad to get something done on that site,” said local councillor Len Wyse.