Galashiels flats plans submitted for St Aidan’s Church site

St Aidan's Church is currently being demolished.
St Aidan's Church is currently being demolished.

Plans for two dozen flats on the sight of a Victorian church currently being demolished in Galashiels have been revealed.

Cubby Construction wants to build 24 affordable homes in two blocks on the town centre site, previously occupied by St Aidan’s Church and church hall, between Gala Park and St Andrew Street.

The building in Gala Park would be made up of 16 two to four-bedroom apartments, with a further block of six apartments and two townhouses facing onto St Andrew Street and Livingston Place where the church hall once stood.

Working on behalf of the Carlisle-based developer, designers at Galashiels architect Camerons say they have attempted to replicate some of the character of the 140-year-old Gothic church, which sported a prominent tower and an octagonal spire.

In a design statement, submitted to Scottish Borders Council along with a planning application this week, they say: “Due to a combination of the elevated site position and tall spire, St Aidan’s church provided a significant contribution to the skyline of central Galashiels.

“The proposal is for a strong new building for both Galashiels and Gala Park – a building that contributes to the townscape in the same way the former church did, a landmark and contextual building that contributes to the community, in this case through affordable housing.”

The firm’s plans for the new building are said to reference the previous church in a modern way by re-using salvage materials as a mark of respect for the history of the site.

“The overall approach taken towards the design is to replicate the overall scale of the main body of the previous church building, albeit a contemporary interpretation,” the report says.

“The development is a new landmark building for Galashiels that references the past, while looking to the future.

“The new building takes an honest, sympathetic contextual approach to material and form which makes reference to the significances of the site in terms of Galashiels historical built fabric.”

The overall form of the eight-unit block proposed to plug the gap left by the former church hall follows the existing form of the dual pitched houses in St Andrew Street by maintaining the existing ridge and eaves height of the closest property.

“It then forms a hipped roof on the corner of St Andrew Street to make the necessary transition to Livingstone Place,” the report explains.

“This principal form is then punctuated by contemporary two-storey dormers.

“The building provides a built edge to the public car park and contains the site.

“The elevations proposed are to be finished with stone, slate, and metal cladding, all of which are intended to reference the demolished church.

“The quality contemporary materials are a reference to the longevity of the former church site too.”

Bulldozers moved onto the church building site last month despite widespread opposition in the town.

Previous efforts to convert the B-listed Gothic building into housing failed after its owner, Cumbrian firm Book Development, after being given permission to convert the church into 11 flats, decided the project was neither economically viable nor of interest to the market.

Subsequent calls to save the church, built in 1880, were unsuccessful, with a £500,000 estimated repair bill rendering any renovation project non-viable, and the council gave its owner the green light to demolish it in September.

Originally called South United Presbyterian Church, it merged with the old Trinity Church in the High Street in 1936 and became known as St Cutherbert’s.

In 1974 it was united with Ladhope Parish Church, and it was renamed St Aidan’s in 1981. It closed in 2005.