PLANNERS have agreed a blueprint for any building replacing the “carbuncle” in Jedburgh’s High Street.
Scottish Borders Council (SBC) councillors at Monday’s meeting gave the green light to officials’ recommendations on redevelopment at the derelict 31 High Street.
Officers said attempts to find a buyer willing to restore the building have failed that a registered social landlord is interested in it as a gap site.
They said: “The council has had to intervene on several occasions to safeguard public safety in relation to this building.”
SBC says it is owed £115,000 for its work over the years. It would get some of its money back when the building was sold and that it will pursue the rest of the debt.
Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown said the building had been “a carbuncle on Jed High Street” for almost a decade and that he had been working tirelessly with the council’s enforcement team for the last three years.
He criticised last week’s story about the building in TheSouthern saying it “inflamed” relations with one of the building’s two owners because it suggested he owed a lot of money to the council.
Mr Brown said he understood one of the owners only received the invoice for his part of the work on December 28: “He hasn’t had the chance to settle that one up. Prior to that everything was up to date.” But yesterday as TheSouthern went to press, the council insisted: “No debt has been paid by either.”
Community council chairman Richard Gordon reiterated his concern: “I stand by my comment [in last week’s Southern]. The council must ensure that there is minimal impact on the public purse.
“Anyone who owns a building and allows it to fall into a dangerous condition must realise that, if they fail to remedy the situation, the local authority has a duty to have the necessary work carried out and recover the costs.
“No-one should be allowed to walk away and leave the council taxpayer to pick up the tab.”
Officials said the opportunities for redeveloping the site include providing town centre housing – which they say is preferred – and the potential for a shop or other business on the ground floor.
Councillors agreed any developer should put up something of a similar character to the current building.
In the approved report, officials envisage a maximum of three two-bedroom and two one-bedroom flats on the site.
Councillor Brown said: “While I am concerned at the prospect of a long term gap site on our High Street, the five affordable flats would be very welcome.”
The three-storey C-listed building dates back to the early 19th century though it incorporates earlier work.