Wrecking ball poised over ‘blight at heart of Jedburgh’

Cll. Jim Brown outside the derelict building in Jedburgh high street which now has a compulsory demolition order.

Cll. Jim Brown outside the derelict building in Jedburgh high street which now has a compulsory demolition order.

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A 19TH-century building in the heart of Jedburgh is to be demolished after councillors heard this week it would cost around £125,000 to restore and make it safe, writes Andrew Keddie.

Until 2002, the property at 31 High Street hosted two shops: an electrical outlet run by the late Bert Dalgleish and the Coffee Pot café.

But since these businesses ceased trading, the C-listed building, which remains in private ownership, has been high on Scottish Borders Council’s dangerous buildings list, forcing the local authority to provide structural stablisation to prevent water infiltration and the spread of dry and wet rot.

This has resulted in the erection of scaffolding with the loss of on-street parking and the building has become “a blight at the heart of Jedburgh”.

On Monday, the council applied to its own planning committee for permission to demolish the property, which is currently the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) by SBC.

And the unanimous decision to grant that consent means the site will be cleared. Already a local registered social landlord has expressed an interest in developing the land for five affordable units to rent.

“This redevelopment will restore the rhythm of the High Street and remove the risk of damage to neighbouring properties,” said planning officer Julie Hayward in a report to the committee.

In the meantime, a temporary façade will be erected: a screen print structure comprising an artist’s impression of what the anticipated new building will look like.

Councillors were told the owners had shown “no interest” in improving the property, which meets the criteria for demolition set out by Historic Scotland in that, despite being listed, it is not of special interest, Mrs Hayward stating it is “now in a ruinous state”.

The building has also been deemed “incapable of repair”, with the estimated cost of restoration put at £125,000 compared to demolition, site clearance and marketing costs of £75,000.

Mrs Hayward said the demolition was essential to deliver economic growth to Jedburgh.

“Given the lack of interest by the owners and the lack of a suitable restoring purchaser, the council has commenced the compulsory purchase process and come to the decision that the most appropriate course of action would be to acquire the building, demolish it and make good the properties on either side.”

On Monday, Jedburgh SNP councllor Jim Brown said removing the eyesore had been one of the main reasons he had decided to stand as a councillor in 2007.

“It had been a blight on the town for five years before that, causing concern to neighbours and posing a safety risk to the general public,” said Mr Brown.

“I have been assured that South of Scotland list MSP Paul Wheelhouse will be pushing hard at Holyrood to ensure the CPO is executed quickly so we can get on with the job.

“It cannot come quickly enough because this has already been a huge drain on the public purse.

“A development plan for housing on the site has already been approved and resources set aside, so I am confident the town will not have to wait too long.”