Brighter future could be in store for old Hawick Liberal club

A brighter future could soon be in store for an eyesore building in Hawick High Street.

Monday, 24th October 2016, 11:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 8:09 pm
The old Liberal club in Hawick High Street.

The Hawick News understands that the former town Liberal club at the end corner of the shopping thoroughfare has been sold at an auction in Edinburgh.

The complex already has planning approval in place in principle for conversion into 10 self-contained apartments but would require major investment because of its state of disrepair.

The intentions of the unknown buyer of the property, up for auction for an asking price of just £59,000 at the city’s Marriott hotel last month, are not known.

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A spokesman for the auctioneer, Edinburgh-based Future Property Auctions, refused to confirm the sale had gone ahead, citing commercial confidentiality for not doing so.

However, a source has said he’s been informed that a buyer had come forward.

In the auction briefing, the building is described as a “great development opportunity” estimated to have a resale value of between £450,000 and £500,000.

The briefing adds: “Planning permission has been granted in principle for 10 self-contained flats.

“Once developed, each flat would command a rental potential of between £300 and £350 per calendar month, equating to £3,600 to £4,200 a year, providing a rental income of £42,000 per annum.

“It is sure to appeal to builders, developers and investors alike.”

The once-imposing building has had a troubled history over recent decades.

It has required many council-led repairs since the turn of the century as a result of falling masonry in 2004, a lorry collision in 2006 and defective pipes in 2011.

In 2010, there were moves to redevelop the building to create an international school of hotel skills and catering, with unfulfilled plans for students from China, Korea, India and Pakistan to study diploma courses in travel, tourism and hospitality management over 18 months being mooted.

And as recently as January this year, concerns were again raised at a community council meeting about falling masonry.

Built in 1894 at a cost of £6,000 and designed by local architect James Pearson Alison and apprentice Alexander Inglis, the club was flourishing by 1914, with a membership of 773 people.

After so many false dawns surrounding the building, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Ron Smith, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for planning and environment and a Liberal democrat himself, said that whoever the new owners are, he just hopes that they have the best intentions of the town centre at heart.

He said: “I would welcome a new ownership with a commitment to develop the property.

“While planning permission has previously been granted, the continuing position is of a vacant building in a prominent position in the centre of town.

“Hopefully, the purchaser is not looking to land-bank the premises and will set about developing it soon for the betterment of the town.”

Eileen Randall, owner of Inis, a women’s designer clothes store located underneath the former club, said a resolution can’t come soon enough.

She said: “It’s in a dreadful, dreadful state.

“We’ve heard time and time again that something was going to be done, but nothing ever happens.

“My concern is whatever is up there would head our way if the flooring collapsed. It’s a real worry.”

The building continued to trade until a few years ago as a sports and social club.