Former Galashiels dental practice to be turned into music school

The sound of music will soon replace the noise of drilling at a former dental practice in Galashiels now planning approval has been granted for its conversion.

Saturday, 11th January 2020, 10:09 am
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 9:36 am
The old dentist's at 6 Roxburgh Street, Galashiels.

Applicant Roddy Matthews, of Bingfield, near Matfen in Northumberland, has been given the go-ahead by Scottish Borders Council planners to set up a music school at the former dentist’s at 6 Roxburgh Place following its relocation to the town’s Ladhope Vale.

Matthews, acting for a new business called Music Coach Borders, believes there is a need for specialist private tuition in playing keyboards, guitar, bass and drums in the Borders.

That is not a view shared by Bridget Gray, a director of the Merlin Academy of Traditional Music in Melrose, and Andy Gray, a guitar tutor there, however, and both registered objections.

Ms Gray said: “Mr Matthews states there is a demand for private music tuition in the area.

“The need and demand for music tuition in the Borders is already being met by ourselves and Nomad Beat in Peebles.

“We have students travelling from far and wide to the music school and we are certainly able to keep up with the demand for private music tuition.

“We have been meeting demand for private music tuition for the last eight years since we opened in 2011. We are not operating any waiting lists for any instruments, which would demonstrate we are, as a music school, more than meeting demand, as well as all other private tutors, music groups and Nomad.”

Mr Gray, of Ednam, adds: “There is already an abundance of music tuition throughout the area.

“The Borders is served by many private music tutors, as well as several charitable-status organisations such as Nomad Beat in Peebles and Riddell Fiddles in Selkirk.

“There is also the Merlin Academy of Traditional Music in Melrose. The academy currently provides employment for up to a dozen tutors.

“I fail to see how Mr Matthews’ claim that there is a high demand for his new venture can be substantiated.”

Lead planning officer Carlos Clarke overruled those objections, though, saying: “There is no requirement to demonstrate that a need for the use exists.

“Competition with other providers is outside the scope of the planning system.”

The building adjoins a property home to a band hall and Islamic centre, and the latter use has led Mr Clarke to insist on soundproofing.

Mr Matthews, a trustee of the Coquetdale Music Trust, based in Thropton in Northumberland, has provided assurances that tuition will finish no later than 10pm, that windows would be triple-glazed and the classrooms soundproofed and insulated, but Mr Clarke only granted approval, under delegated powers, on condition that a more formal management plan to minimise noise is put in place.

In his report, he writes: “The building is immediately adjoining a property occupied by a band hall and Islamic centre. The former would not be expected to be directly in conflict with the proposal, other than, perhaps, competing with it in terms of noise.

“The latter, however, comprises offices and admin uses, as well as weekly prayer meetings where intrusive noise may be a problem, even during the restricted operating hours.

“A management plan is needed to at least demonstrate that the use can operate without unreasonable intrusion on the most sensitive activities of the Islamic centre.”