Abbotsford Hotel demolition begins

Demolition has begun this week on an iconic former Galashiels Hotel in preparation for it to become a Starbucks drive-through and café.

By Kevin Janiak
Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:17 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:17 pm
The former Abbotsford Hotel is being demolished. Photo: Angela Dickson.
The former Abbotsford Hotel is being demolished. Photo: Angela Dickson.

It’s a bittersweet moment for Gala folk, with some reminiscing on social media over memorable nights out at “the Abb”, while others have been campaigning for years to flatten the site, which had become derelict and dangerous from years of non-use.

The site itself, close to the Transport Interchange, has gleaned interest from several companies, such as Travelodge and KFC.

However, the budget hotel chain decided that the site was not large enough to build a new hotel with parking, and KFC withdrew last year after the company failed to come to an agreement with the landowners.

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The Starbucks application has found favour with the town’s community council, however that group’s planning representative Rick Kenney, said they would like the planning committee to consider some changes to the design of the drive-through.

He wrote: “Given that the Abbotsford Arms Hotel has a design which was complimentary to the surroundings and the location adjacent to the Catholic Church, we ask that the building (rather than a Starbucks formulaic design) has some detailing which might have some feature/s which are sympathetic to the former hotel. The recent opening of the Great Tapestry of Scotland building with its world famous contents may give some stimulus for Starbucks to do something a little bit different whilst still giving its brand image.”

Project architect David Wilson welcomed the community council’s “general support”, he added: “The proposed Starbucks building design has been developed over many years to give a familiar recognisable face to the brand and work for the operational requirements of a Drive-Thru and sit in café.

"In the past, bespoke buildings have been looked at, but in addition to compromising the buildings’ core operations they proved to be economically unviable as the relatively small size of these buildings lead to vastly increased costs when compared to the standard design. This issue has only been magnified with the current Brexit and Covid related material costs increases.”

He added that the contemporary design is ”intended to sit more adjacent to the equally modern bus station building and away from the adjacent church building.”