Jedburgh’s dangerous building solution to cost £1m whether it stays up or comes down

Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown at the scaffolding-clad building in Market Place.
Jedburgh councillor Jim Brown at the scaffolding-clad building in Market Place.

Whatever the decision by planning chiefs over Jedburgh’s scaffolding-clad town centre building, the future of the Market Place site is costing the public purse dear.

Figures released by Scottish Borders Council show it is costing around £3,000 a week to keep the existing scaffolding and traffic management system in place.

That means it’s so far cost the local authority £378,681 and that’s before any decision on whether it stays up or comes down is reached.

And should councillors decide the latter is the best option, it will cost a further estimated £589,00 to pull the building to the ground and prop up its neighbours.

That means just under £1m will have been spent on the listed building between it being declared dangerous in June 2015 and it potentially being demolished next year.

But according to the figures, made public alongside almost 180 pages of correspondence in response to a freedom-of-information request, that’ll still be cheaper than what it could cost to restore the building.

If saving the building were an option, it would cost an estimated £1.04m, made up of £774,000 to make it wind and watertight and a further £286,000 to make it fit to bring it back into use.

Whatever the final cost, though, the council says it will attempt to claim back that cash from the building’s five joint owners.

Last October, Alan Gueldner, of the council’s enforcement team, wrote in a letter to its owners: “The cost of the work to date is £300,000.

“In addition, the cost of monitoring the scaffolding and traffic management arrangements will be in the region of £3,000 per week.

“As an owner of part of the building, you are legally liable to meet your share of these costs.”

The council has so far recovered none of those costs, however.

When asked how much it anticipated getting back from the building’s owners, the response was: “When undertaking direct action works, the costs associated with these works are not invoiced until the works have been completed.

“In this case, given the complex nature of the project and the desire for the council to acquire the property, it is too early to comment on the recovery of costs.”

An application to demolish the building, comprising a ground-floor shop and four flats, was submitted by the local authority to its own planning department in July, and a decision is due imminently.

But even if approved, the council still needs all five owners to hand over the deeds to the property.

“The council is bending over backwards to get a deal here,” Jim Brown said in his latest update to the town’s community council.

“It takes a long time to get these compulsory purchases.

“What they are hoping to achieve is, one way or another, an agreement face to face or the compulsory purchase, and hopefully that’ll happen by the end of this year, with demolition to follow next year.

“The last thing the council wants to be doing is paying X amount of pounds every week for scaffolding around the building.”

At that same meeting, townsfolk blamed owners for neglecting one of the town’s most beautiful buildings and accused them of “washing their hands of the problem”.

In November, one of the owners told the council: “We need legal assurances that if we give the council our deeds for nothing, we have absolutely no costs, neither for monies already spent nor in the future.”

Of the £378,681 spent on the building so far £198,399 was payment to a contractor, £111,795 paid for scaffolding; £67,473 went on consultants’ fees and £2,015 was racked up in miscellaneous costs.