Call goes out to save historic Jedburgh building in line for demolition

Scaffold in Jedburgh's square.
Scaffold in Jedburgh's square.

Calls are being made to halt the demolition of a Jedburgh town centre building, amid claims it has been condemned due to fear and misinformation.

The derelict building at the corner of Exchange Street and High Street has been shrouded by scaffolding for the last four years pending a decision on its future.

And this week Scottish Borders Council submitted a planning application, seeking permission to tear it town, to its own planning department.

But now one Borderer who believes the handling of the situation warrants a rethink on that proposal, it calling for it to be saved.

Robin Armstrong. of Minto, is questioning the legalities of the decision, and claims the circumstances around the building’s fate is “spurious and unethical”.

He said: “The condition of the building has never been so serious to warrant demolition, the damage to stone work is localised as is the dry rot. In fact, ironically, the cost of the scaffold over the last few years would have more than paid for the necessary renovation works.

“It seems that overreactions from the council and public have sealed the fate of this beautiful property.”

Mr Armstrong gathered information from a freedom of information request to Scottish Borders Council.

Its response this month revealed that the building has been inspected by no less than four different parties over the last two years.

It showed the consulting engineer, appointed by the local authority in the first instance, was not conservation accredited, and goes on to highlight scathing criticism of the initial findings which deemed it necessary to label the building as dangerous and in need of scaffolding support.

Mr Armstrong added: “We are not talking about a back street tenement here, but an imposing and architectural significant structure which has formed Jedburgh’s landscape over the last 200 years.

“The council’s track record of redevelopment on sites is not good ... look at the property further down the High Street ... still undeveloped.

“What will be next? The Spread Eagle? Other properties in between? Are we to lose most of our High Street due to lack of maintenance and fear?”

In a July 2018 report from Penicuik-based firm Addison Conservation and Design, John Addison suggested the building could be saved and claimed not enough work was done to validate claims of its instability.

It said: “There is no sign of a strategy for remediation or tests to identify proper interim and final solutions.

“The engineering reports are also so heavily caveated as to have questionable credibility in every aspect of them leading again to the obvious conclusion that there has been no expert engineering assessment and direction from the outset.

“These are harsh criticisms of the work of a fellow professional, however serious omissions are very evident both in his reports and in the consequences of his actions on site.”

Many of Mr Addison’s claims are agreed with in a further report from Edinbugh firm David Narro Associates which surveyed the building twice and last September stated in its report: “The report indicates that the building can be saved.

“In my supplementary report I also stated this but went further and indicated that this might be at a cost beyond the value of the building.”

Mr Armstong added: “Having leapt to the assumption of imminent structural collapse, a situation not supported by two reports from consulting engineer , the significant support scaffold was put up, at significant cost, funds which could have been used for repairs.”

An application for permission to proceed with the demolition is due before councillors shortly.