New lease of life for Ettrick Terrace eyesore

Graham Easton, David Deacon, Fiona Deacon and Wull Scott at the site of the former St Mary's Church in Selkirk.
Graham Easton, David Deacon, Fiona Deacon and Wull Scott at the site of the former St Mary's Church in Selkirk.

One of the town’s worst eyesores is set to be transformed into a memorial garden by next spring.

Selkirk Ex-Servicemen’s Association are set to lead a project which will see part of the overgrown land on Ettrick Terrace transformed into a space in remembrance of those Souters who served in World War One.

Michelle Ballantyne

Michelle Ballantyne

The area has lain as wasteland since the demolition of St Mary’s Church there in 2004.

Walkerburn-based development company Candleberry gained permission to develop the land in 2006, however, it is believed they no longer plan to develop the site and will look to sell it at some point in the future.

However, until then, they have agreed to the Ex-Servicemen’s Association taking over the frontage of the area.

Their chairman David Deacon said: “The idea has been talked about for a number of years and until recently gained momentum again. This is wholly due to the tireless commitment of councillor Michelle Ballantyne, who has secured assistance and funding from various agencies, consulting with the land owners and local authority to gain permission to even consider the project.

“The Selkirk Ex-Servicemen’s Association will be providing the labour, ideas and will be the custodians of the area once completed. This makes perfect sense as we already keep the War Memorial in good order.”

Plans for the site include new screening, repair works to tidy up the front walls and adding decorative planting and a memorial bench.

Mr Deacon added: “Should the site owners decide to develop the area in the future, all the items such as planting and the bench could be redistributed in different areas of the town.

“Reaction to the idea from the Selkirk community has been positive so far, with hopefully plenty of volunteers when the work starts.”

The news comes after months of work by Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne to gain permission for the works from Candleberry. She said: “We will not be interfering with the main site, but tidying up the front. They have agreed to that and I’ll hopefully be going to them in the next couple of weeks with a plan.”

Coming from an ex-service family herself, Mrs Ballantyne says she “absolutely supports” the idea. “I have been working with the Ex-Servicemen’s Association to look at what they would like,” she said. “We are going to massively improve an eyesore within the town. It has bothered me for a long time and I have wanted to do something about it, so I am delighted this is happening. It has been a bug bear for a lot of people in the town for a long time.”

Support has also come from Selkirk CARS Project; Scottish Borders Council’s Quality of Life Fund and Alan Beattie, who has donated topsoil for the project.

Weather dependant, the volunteers are hopeful the new garden will be completed by spring in time for an opening before the Common Riding.

Anyone wishing to make a financial donation or to gift plants towards the project can contact Mrs Ballantyne or the Ex-Servicemens Association.