Derelict fish shop to be community centre

Funding is now being sought for plans to convert an old Selkirk fish shop into a community centre.

David Bethune outside the former fish shop.
David Bethune outside the former fish shop.

Selkirk Regeneration Company has submitted plans to Scottish Borders Council to redevelop 5 Tower Street as a community asset.

The company already owns the neighbouring 1 Tower Street, and it has hosted a succession of pop-up shops selling various local products and services.

The company has also submitted an application to the town’s common good fund, asking for £1,131 to cover legal, planning and consultation fees associated with their application.

The organisation’s website explains the history of the project so far: “Using an award for all grant, the old fish shop at 5 Tower Street has been stripped out and had some basic renovation done to allow the front shop to be used temporarily as a second pop-up shop.  

“The rear shop, which was riddled with dry rot has been partially demolished, with all infected wood removed, and left open to the elements.

“Thanks to funding from the Big Lottery, we have had various plans drawn up to rebuild this into a useful community resource.  

“Unfortunately, Big Lottery were unable to fund the actual development, so we have gone back to the drawing board, produced a less ambitious plan, and are currently seeking funding from various trusts to allow us to complete the works, which will probably cost around £80,000.

“Our longer-term vision for 5 Tower Street is to set it up as an energy advice centre, staffed by a project manager and energy adviser, paid for through the climate challenge fund.  

“The staff would be able to provide advice to householders to help them reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint.  If funding comes through, this project could be underway in April 2019.”

The planning application, submitted on behalf of the company by Galashiels-based architects Camerons, show plans for a multi-use community space, a meeting room and disabled facilities, and is expected to be decided on by Scottish Borders Council planners by April.

Meanwhile, the Selkirk common good fund sub committee meets on Wednesday 13 February to deliberate on the application for financial assistance.

A statement accompanying the company’s application reads: “Selkirk Regeneration Company is a community-based non-profit company, whose purpose is to initiate and administer projects which will benefit the people and environment of Selkirk and the surrounding area.

“Membership is open to any resident in the TD7 area who supports the aims of the company. Currently we have 84 members, who elect a board of trustees to manage the affairs of the company.

“Listening days are also held which allows the residents of Selkirk to suggest ideas for development, or comment on proposals.

“Currently we own and manage 1 Tower Street as a pop-up shop for the benefit of local residents, local crafts and charities.

“Rental for 1 Tower Street is kept low to maximise community benefit, but generates enough income to cover overheads, so the pop-up shop is sustainable in the long term.

“We are now working towards completing the renovation of the neighbouring former derelict fish shop at 5 Tower Street as a community resource.”

The shop had been lying derelict for 22 years.

The treasurer of the Selkirk Regeneration Company, David Bethune, said: “The next stage is to complete the renovation of the whole property, including rebuilding the back shop, to turn it into a fully accessible community resource.

“It’s hoped that most of the cash required can be raised from grants, but some will need to come from the community itself.”

With that in mind, some volunteer members are holding a sale of good used items and unwanted presents in the pop-up shop on Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23.

Donated items can be handed in at 5 Tower Street on Tuesday or Wednesday, February 19 and 20, or call Mr Bethune on 01750 21703 if they need uplifted.