Shock bid submitted today to fill a gaping retail hole in Hawick High Street

A shock bid has been made to fill a gaping retail hole in Hawick High Street caused by the departure of two giant clothing retailers.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 8:30 am
Councillor Watson McAteer beside the former Burtons and Dorothy Perkins stores. (Photo:BILL McBURNIE)

Confirmation of the closure of the Dorothy Perkins and Burton stores, standing side by side at 65 to 69 High Street, was a hammer blow to the town last month.

But a ray of hope has emerged on Scottish Borders Council’s planning portal after an application was submitted to retain both units as retail.

Additionally, the application is to convert the premises above into nine apartments.

The bid comes from the building owner, Stephen Jacobs, of Stoneacre Properties in Leeds.

The application is seeking approval for new shopfronts and entrances and permission for three one-bedroom apartments on the first floor and six one and two bedroom apartments on the second and third floors.

The roof would also be converted from pitched to flat, a new stair lift installed and partial demolition work carried out.

When closure of the two stores was confirmed town provost Watson McAteer had suggested an indoor market-style shopping area could be the future of the site.

Mr McAteer has still not ruled that out as an option but said he was willing to listen to what the latest plans would mean for the town’s retail offer.

He said: “I did hear that the owners have put an outline plan in, although I don’t think there is any actual retailers identified to move into the outlets. It seems the owners have put the application in and now they’ll market the property.

"This has all happened very quickly and we were still hoping to pursue the possibility of it becoming an indoor arcade but there is nothing to say that couldn’t happen because I believe it is still for sale. If the building is still for sale there are opportunities there. We will try and find out what their intentions are but at this moment in time all I can say is that the owners of the property have applied for planning permission which allows the building to be used for both retail and flats. The flats element could be key because obviously the planning regulations were relaxed in Hawick to allow for diversity on the high street, so I imagine getting approval for flats would be a strong option.”