Blessing sought for conversion of former village church

Blessing is being sought for the conversion of a former Berwickshire village church into a family home.
Westruther Parish Church.Westruther Parish Church.
Westruther Parish Church.

Planning approval was granted by Scottish Borders Council for the change of Westruther Parish Church into a single dwelling.

But the applicant Graeme Wright then submitted a revised application which included a new opening in the wall to allow for the creation of sliding patio doors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This proposed design change also involves alterations to two of the existing windows in the southern elevation, these alterations involving lifting the sills heights of the windows to accommodate the new opening.

The revised application was refused on the grounds that “the scale and design of the proposed sliding doors to the south elevation of the building would have a detrimental impact upon its character and appearance”.

Now that refusal is to be appealed at a meeting of SBC’s Local Review Body when members meet on Monday, April 15.

Mr Wright is also requesting that members of the committee agree to a site visit to the former church.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The appeal statement says: “A site visit is considered to be appropriate in this case as it represents the best means of ensuring that the members of the Local Review Body can gain a full and appropriate understanding of the appeal site and its relationship to the surrounding area.

“It is submitted that the application proposals can be both fully and reasonably justified against the relevant provisions of the development plan.”

The church was built in 1838 by John Smith but the building has been stripped of almost all of its ecclesiastical features, including its pews.

The church became vacant after it was closed by the Church of Scotland due to a declining congregation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

An earlier statement from Glasgow-based Jewitt & Wilkie Architects, agent for the applicant, said: “A return of ecclesiastical use was highly unlikely, given that the previous diminished congregation had vacated and merged with another in the vicinity.

“The applicant purchased the church from the Church of Scotland with a view to carrying out a residential change of use, to install a water supply, foul drainage, create bedrooms, bathrooms and a living room.

“One of the ground floor bedrooms is to be specifically of use for a disabled person and there is to be a wet room with appropriate activity spaces.

“Whilst not a listed building, a conservation-led approach was taken to preserve and enhance the character and setting of a socially, culturally, architecturally and historically significant building.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Whilst all pews and ecclesiastic fitments have been removed the choir gallery remains open, however, this is to be removed by a specialist and considered for re-use.

“The proposal to convert the former church into a residential property will ensure the future of the building. Whilst a modern building in style, it provides a valuable and significant contribution to the village of Westruther.”