An iconic cafe at the southern entrance to Selkirk could be flattened to make way for houses

A landmark cafe at an entrance to Selkirk could be off the menu forever after a demolition bid was revealed.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 9:07 am
Updated Friday, 1st October 2021, 9:07 am
Fletcher's Cafe.

A planning application has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council to flatten the former Fletcher’s cafe at Hillside Terrace, which also operated as a Little Chef outlet in the 1970s, a create two housing plots on the land.

Sadness was expressed from loyal customers when the outlet closed its doors early in 2019.

Megan and Scott McGregor, who have run the cafe for four years, said at the time they closing the business to spend more time with their family – and because the building requiring some upgrading.

The cafe, something of a Selkirk institution, was renowned for its purple paint job, and was previously run by Megan’s parents, Isobel and David Sanderson, from Galashiels.

A report from the applicant’s agent, Selkirk-based RM Architecture, says the building, in a prominent position at the southern entrance to the town, has become something of an eyesore.

It adds: “The development proposal is to demolish the existing cafe building and create two building plots for private residential use.

“There are no official records of any planning history for the application site. However, anecdotal evidence would suggest that the premises was constructed in the early 1960's although the original use was unclear. It was then brought into use as part of the Little Chef chain in 1972 and has remained in use as a cafe until 2019 when it ceased trading and remains permanently closed since this time.

“The applicant, who operates and owns the adjoining garage premises,

purchased the property from the previous owner in 2019 with a view to

leasing the premises and for the cafe to remain in operation. However, the

onset of Covid-19 in March 2020 brought about the prolonged and permanent

closure of the premises.

“Over the years it has become clear that the premises is not fit for purpose and

has deteriorated to the point where it has become a bit of an eyesore at an

important visual gateway into the town. A visual inspection carried out as part

of an overall fabric assessment of the building structure has revealed that the

building has actually come to the end of its lifespan and the resulting lack of

maintenance and income over the period of lockdown combined with the slow

rate of economic recovery have now placed the building beyond economic

repair.

“Therefore, in accepting the inevitable loss of such a facility, one has to assess

the impact of this loss on the local community and economy. It is widely

accepted that as part of a diverse and vibrant retail sector some businesses

will fail due to a number of factors. However, new businesses emerge and

must be allowed to flourish as they adapt to the prevailing trends and

circumstances of the time. In this case the town centre is well served with an

adequate range of food and drink premises that showcase high quality local

produce and offer choice. Most importantly, these outlets are located within

the town centre which is crucial to sustaining the local retail economy and

visitor footfall. Ironically, the resulting loss of this facility can therefore be seen

to have a positive effect on the continuing regeneration of the town centre.

In assessing an appropriate alternative use for the site, the applicants wish is

to re-develop the site for private housing.”

The cafe was also formerly run as Kennedy’s for a period.