'Destitute' Galashiels flats to get a new lease of life

An historic block of flats in Galashiels which are currently 'destitute and dangerous' are in line for a much-needed new lease of life.
Kirk Brae, Galashiels, Photo: Bill McBurnie.Kirk Brae, Galashiels, Photo: Bill McBurnie.
Kirk Brae, Galashiels, Photo: Bill McBurnie.

A planning application has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council for the refurbishment of nine category C Listed apartments at 69 to 77 Kirk Brae, a building which dates back to 1888.

Regarded as a fine example of late 19th century tenement buildings it is currently on the 'Building at Risk' Register.

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Two stories of floors have collapsed due to an extended period of water ingress and there are signs of fire damage.

The extensive work will include the replacement of windows and doors, internal alterations and removal of the existing toilet block.

The applicant, Glasgow-based Respindo Developments Limited, are aiming to retain as much of the original structure as possible.

A report submitted with the application from Michael Angus, of Galashiels-based Angus Architecture Limited, quotes the observations of Historic Scotland on the building, saying: "The Kirk Brae tenements have the stonework and detailing superior to other late 19th century housing in the area and are a rare survival in their original form, with an imposing presence and streetscape value.

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"The tenements are an important example of late 19th century mill workers housing in the town. They are a fine and unaltered example of multi-level housing designed specifically to fit on a steeply sloping narrow site; a building type particular to Galashiels due to the topography of the town and the valley in which it sits."

The report adds: "The current proposal is to reinstate the buildings to apartments and keep the original number of properties and their means of access.

"However, consideration has to be given to the longevity of most of the existing structures, some of which will ultimately need to be replaced.

"That said, the regeneration of the area is to be sympathetic to th heritage of the building and its surroundings and where practical, have the external of the building as original as possible."