Galashiels pub hoping to increase capacity by half again to almost 600

The Hunters Hall in Galashiels and the old butcher's shop on its left.
The Hunters Hall in Galashiels and the old butcher's shop on its left.

A Galashiels pub is thinking big as it presses ahead with plans to expand into a neighbouring shop.

JD Wetherspoon has already secured planning consent to extend its Hunters Hall pub in High Street into a former butcher’s next door, and now it’s applying to vary its premises licence to increase the number of customers it can cater for at any one time.

It wants to increase its current capacity of 394 by half again to 594.

Scottish Borders Council’s licensing board is to consider the application this Friday, October 26, and representatives of the Hertfordshire-based pub chain have been asked to attend that meeting at the authority’s Newtown headquarters to state their case.

The pub is about to be extended into the old JB Hogg butcher’s shop, vacant since the retiral of boss Jim Hogg in 2013.

A spokesman for Wetherspoon said: “The majority of the existing appearance will remain the same, with the front elevation of the butcher’s re-using existing openings.

“To the rear, the existing outbuildings will be retained in form with mainly internal alterations, including the removal of the intermediate floor to enhance the space and make suitable for an external dining area.

“During the design of the current proposals, it has been noted that the proposed development is located within the Galashiels conservation area and, as such, the proposals to the front elevation are very minor.”

Planning permission for the pub to be extended was granted in June subject to various conditions including limiting its beer garden’s opening hours to 11am to 10.30pm daily and agreeing any external redecoration with the council before proceeding.

The application sparked four objections from neighbours fearful of further disruption, but in a report to councillors recommending approvaln, planning officer Carlos Clarke said: “The principle is agreeable as the site is within the town centre and is not within the protected retail frontage.

“This proposal will reuse an existing shop and encourage commercial activity alongside the existing public house and amongst offices, joiners and other commercial uses.

“The overall result of these works will amount to relatively minor changes to the existing arrangement.

“Subject to conditions covering specifications, the proposals will not detract from the character or appearance of the conservation area.”

The Hunters Hall, opened in the late 1990s, is one of three Wetherspoon pubs in the Borders, the others being the Bourtree at Hawick and the Cross Keys at Peebles.

Friday’s licensing board meeting begins at 10am.

No objections have been submitted to the licence variation requested.