Opposition still mounting despite plans to demolish Jedburgh building having been approved

Residents are warning that a Borders town centre could be ruined forever if plans now approved to demolish a 19th century building there go ahead.

By Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 3:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 3:47 pm
Rob Armstrong outside the scaffolding-clad building in Jedburgh.
Rob Armstrong outside the scaffolding-clad building in Jedburgh.

That 11th-hour bid to save the scaffolding-clad building at the corner of 12 Market Place and 2 High Street in Jedburgh follows planners at Scottish Borders Council last week giving the thumbs-up to the authority’s own application to demolish it.

The category-C listed building, constructed in 1866, has been shrouded in scaffolding since 2015 after being judged to be dangerous due to bits of masonry falling off it.

It then emerged that its stonework was in much worse condition than previously thought, so additional scaffolding was put up, necessitating the introduction of a one way system in the town centre.

The council is currently trying to secure the co-operation of all six of the building’s absentee owners to have it knocked down, and although two have reportedly agreed, the other four are holding out.

The council is also seeking a compulsory purchase order compelling the remaining owners to sell up.

However, the council’s plans to bulldoze the building have met with anger among some Jedburgh residents and other objectors further afield, and a petition to halt the demolition has already attracted 480 signatures.

David Cain, one of the signatories of the petition, said: “We have a traditional town centre and it will be ruined with modern work driven by the waffle of trendy architects or mean-minded local public servants.”

Another petitioner, Michael Stanway, wrote: “The whole character of the centre of Jedburgh would be ruined forever if this building is torn down.”

Gail Chandler wrote: “If we allow this building to be demolished unnecessarily, it may mark the beginning of the end of every other listed building which develops a problem.

“The heart of the town could eventually disappear.”

Robert Currie wrote: “This building is so beautiful and such a major part of the square that it must be saved.”

The petition was launched by antiques consultant Rob Armstrong, 50, of Minto, as he claims the decision to demolish the building is an “unjust overreaction”.

He said: “The petition is going well. We’re at nearly 500 signatures, and we’ve had a lot of comments that are very relevant to the issue.

“Everyone who has commented has raised a point that has helped with the cause.

“It just shows that people feel very strongly about this and they feel attached to the building.

“The biggest thing for me is what will be there if the building is taken down, and many residents feel that nothing will be put in to replace it.

“The council says it is getting money from Historic Environment Scotland, but they only give money to preserve historic buildings, not to build new ones, so why have they said they have funding for a new building?

“The people of Jedburgh deserve a choice. The town shouldn’t just be told the building is coming down.

“Reports show the building needs work, but it doesn’t necessarily need to come down.

“Jedburgh residents need a clear choice, with full costings, as they deserve the chance to keep their building.

“We need a public inquiry to be held and a meeting with the council so they can explain the options.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council has had to take action to make safe this building to fulfil its statutory duties and protect the public.

“The council must make decisions based on a range of factors including cost.

“No viable option to retain the building was identified that represented a reasonable and proportionate use of public funds.

“Historic Environment Scotland has accepted that there is a convincing case for demolition.

“The planning and building standards committee approved development guidance for the property in March which agreed to pursue demolition as the most appropriate solution, and the council continues to work to that end.

“Councillors have been provided with all the necessary information, including expert opinions and associated analysis and advice, to take fully-informed decisions regarding this building.”