A bid to demolish a landmark Galashiels church has been blocked by Historic Environment Scotland.
Plans had been in place since 2014 by Cumbrian-based group Book Developments to create 16 flats out of the former B-listed St Aidan’s Church in the town’s Gala Park.
The company also sought consent from Scottish Borders Council to demolish the adjoining church hall and build another 11 apartments.
However, an external inspection five years ago found some deterioration in St Aidan’s since the previous site visit. Rear windows were no longer wind and watertight, glass was broken elsewhere and the building’s gutters were clogged.
It was deemed to be beyond repair, and the company lodged a planning application to demolish the building.
However, Historic Environment Scotland objected to the plans, and the application was pulled.
The proposals to build new flats were also objected to by several members of the public.
Originally founded as the South United Presbyterian Church in 1880, it was merged with the former Trinity Church in the town’s High Street. The name was then changed to St Cuthbert’s.
In 1974, St Cuthbert’s was united with Ladhope Parish Church to become first of all Ladhope St Cuthbert’s and then, in 1981, St Aidan’s.
St Aidan’s closed in 2005, with its congregation joining with that of St Ninian’s to create Trinity Church.
St Aidan’s church and hall were finally put up for sale in 2007, at offers in excess of £300,000.
The hall was in better condition but still had clogged and broken gutters and was steadily being encroached upon by trees and vegetation.
Braedale Developments bought the church and its hall in 2007 and was set to transform them into 26 flats, with planning permission granted in August 2009.
However, the housing market crashed, and there was no interest in building.
Braedale Developments was dissolved, but Book Developments took over the project in 2014 and submitted a new planning application for a revised scheme of 16 flats, seeing it approved in 2014.
However, the deterioration of the interior had become worse, and it was going to cost more than £450,000 to put right and still keep the exterior of the church.
Book Developments stated this was not viable and applied for permission to demolish the building.
However, Historic Environment Scotland’s Ian Thomson objected, saying: “The information currently presented to justify loss of this B-listed building falls short of what is expected and raises issues for the historic environment.”