Baronial country house guest house conversion bid is withdrawn

Plans to convert a country house in a Borders village into a six-bedroom guest house and ‘spiritual retreat’ have been withdrawn after facing local opposition.
Borthwick Hall.Borthwick Hall.
Borthwick Hall.

Proposals were submitted to Scottish Borders Council for Borthwick Hall in Heriot.

The category C-listed baronial country house dates from 1852.

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The plan was for the premises to be predominantly run as a retreat offering courses on spiritual health and well-being.

The courses were to host a maximum of 15 guests at any one time and to offer a fully inclusive service of food and drink.

When such courses were not being operated, Borthwick Hall was to offer a simple bed and breakfast service.

But the application raised the hackles of some locals, amid concerns it would make Heriot village “less appealing” and it has now been withdrawn.

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One objector said: “The proposed hotel/guest house is located in the middle of this residential area and will result in a fundamental change to local residents and their families, leading to increased noise, more traffic from guests, service and staff vehicles and the associated traffic and maintenance concerns, a loss of privacy for the residents as the grounds which are currently used by families, their children, sheep, a horse and three donkeys will become part of the ‘guest facilities’.

“Allowing this change of use to take place will impact this quiet community considerably and will have a ripple effect through the rest of the Heriot village and its surroundings.

“Folk have moved to this location because of its current nature, contribute to the wider community and have children in the small rural school. This development will make the Borthwick Hall area less appealing, particularly to families with children. This will impact on the schools viability and with that the community”.

A report submitted with the application said: “With a maximum of only 15 guests proposed at any one time there is more than enough parking space at various locations around the property and the sight lines at the main entrance are very good given the class of road. The number of guests is equivalent to a large family gathering were the property to remain solely as a private residence.

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“The type of activity undertaken by the guests during their stay will be quiet and discreet so impact on the neighbouring properties will be neutral.

“The applicant is seeking to retain Borthwick Hall in part as a private residence and permanent home and at the same time provide much needed rest and respite for guests in a beautiful part of Scotland.

“Borthwick Hall provides the perfect backdrop and amenity for this to happen. It also ensures the long-term sustainability of this large and important house as well as bringing small scale and discreet tourism business into the local area and beyond.”