Plans for a new NHS dentistry practice in Kelso revealed

A former bookies in Kelso has been earmarked for a new NHS dentistry practice after a town church bid fell at a final hurdle.

By Paul Kelly
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:01 pm
The former bookmakers in Kelso.
The former bookmakers in Kelso.

All other bets appeared to be off when Kelso Baptist Church submitted a planning application in December last year to convert the ex-William Hill bookmakers premises at 36-40 Horsemarket into a community hub.

The property has been vacant for more than five years after the bookmakers relocated online and also to Kelso Racecourse.

The baptist church has been on the look-out for a town centre location to support the community and local businesses from, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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But the bid fell through after after the building’s owner decided to sell it and now plans have been revealed for the outlet’s change of use to a dentistry practice.

A new application for the conversion of the site has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council by Stela Ltd, of Chesters Brae in Hawick, for its “change of use from bookmakers to NHS Dentistry – Inward Investment”.

No-one from Stela Ltd was available for comment, but the Reverend Rob Jones, of Kelso Baptist Church, said the search for a new premises would continue – and expressed the belief that an NHS dentistry practice was needed in the town.

Church members had previously met at the town’s Knowes Centre, but that proved too restrictive during lockdown and members now gather in the Cross Keys Hotel every Sunday.

Rev Jones said: “The plan fell through because the owner decided to sell it and it’s obviously the owner’s privilege to do what he wants to do, so it is off the agenda.

“We will still be looking for somewhere else.

"We’d want a place with community space that we could use during the week and be part of the community, and hopefully somewhere in the centre of town rather than tucked away.

“We have been putting our toes in the water to see how the process would go. I think an NHS dentistry practice is probably needed because if you look around Kelso it’s mostly private dentists, I don’t know if there is an NHS dentist.”