THE loss of another shop in Selkirk is bad for the town, writes Kenny Paterson.
That is the view of Selkirk Community Council, which has decided not to oppose the conversion of former women’s clothes store Jenny Muir into an office, but has expressed its disappointment at the closure of another retail unit on the High Street.
The community council was prompted to make the move by a member of the public who raised concerns that less visitors will come to Selkirk if there are fewer shops, despite the £750,000 Historic Scotland grant to revamp the town centre.
He told the February meeting of the community council: “It is the loss of a retail outlet. Jenny Muir was badly damaged because of sewage and was never let on the market as a shop. I know of two people who would have been interested (in re-opening it as a shop).
“While I see little chance of the council overturning the change of use application, I think it should be made clear by the community council that the loss of a retail unit is not to be applauded.
“With the loss of another retail space, less people will come into the town.”
Selkirk previously had prime retail frontage protection but it was relaxed in 2007. The move, supported by former Selkirkshire councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre, allowed bookmakers and restaurants to open in the town centre.
Selkirk CC had wished for the policy to remain in place, which would have meant if a retail business closed, another would replace it. With the protection still operational, the change of use application at 23 High Street could not have gone ahead, and Selkirk CC secretary Alistair Pattullo refuted any suggestion the organisation had not put up a strong argument to retain the policy six years ago.
He said: “We fought tooth and nail to keep prime retail frontage but lost the battle with the councillor (Mrs Riddell-Carre) who wanted to get rid of it.”