Concerns raised over demolition site

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Concern has been voiced that a demolition site next to Selkirk’s Victoria Halls might not be cleared in time for the town’s annual common riding.

Honorary provost Jake Wheelans raised the issue at this month’s Selkirk Community Council meeting, held on Monday.

He said: “We’ve just come into spring and the start of summer, and the number of people that have said to me, how is the town allowing the mess just 50 yards from Victoria Halls to be left like it is?”

“It’s a mess. It’s like a war zone. The site standing as it is is not safe, and if youngsters get in there, then we are just waiting for an accident.”

The former Bordersprint building at the site was demolished last Novermber.

It was also the original office of the Selkirk Weekend Advertiser after it was set up in 1986 by James Rutherford.

The newspaper remained at the site, also formerly used as a hairdresser’s and fish-and-chip shop, between 1989 and 2002 before moving to the old Southern Reporter office in the town’s High Street.

The site was previously granted planning permission for a house to be built there. However, due to the poor condition of the property’s structural elements, its owner, James Rutherford, decided it was not worth saving.

Mr Wheelans also called for pressure to be put on the landowner to clear the stone and rubble away before the start of the common riding in June.

However, Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne responded, saying that regulations don’t require owners and developers “to make the site look nice”.

She said: “It’s not instantaneous, unfortunately. When you get demolition permission, you are also given a period of time in which you must clear the site.”

She also warned that even if the site is cleared, it will still look bad if it is left as a gap.

Mr Rutherford said he is unable to comment on the situation as negotiations are ongoing with other parties involved in the site. He said that he hopes the site will be improved in time for the common riding, however.

It is understood that the land will be used for housing.