Flood-hit building to be partially demolished

A landmark building in Hawick is set to be partially demolished so the town’s multi-million pound flood scheme can proceed.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 11:27 pm
The Bridge House Guest House and Sonia's Bistro in Hawick has been idol for over a year after it was damaged by Storm Ciara. Picture by Bill McBurnie.

The Bridge House Guest House and Sonia’s Bistro in Sandbed fell victim to Storm Ciara in February 2020, when flood water smashed into the building causing its corner to collapse into the River Slitrig.

Its damaged remains have stood on the riverside ever since, with the inside of the building still visible above the rubble.

However, it has now been revealed that Hawick Flood Protection Scheme is set to move in and secure the site.

Updating Hawick Community Council at its March meeting, Conor Price, project director for the scheme, said it was “a massively complicated matter”, but assured members that “every effort” would be made to save as much of the building as possible.

He said: “The flood protection scheme has brokered a deal with the current owner/proprietor, such that we have the ability to take occupation of the building in the very near future, and we will coordinate the systematic demolition of the end of the building which has been deemed required to be taken down or condemned from a structures perspective.”

Mr Price said that a controlled demolition would take place to avoid an uncontrolled collapse into the river, which could affect a larger part of the building.

“It will allow us and the construction engineers and crews every possible effort of saving as much of the building that can possibly be saved,” he said.

"Whatever part of the building that can be saved will immediately be secured and made available for the future of the fabric of the town.

“This will also allow us to push on and build the flood protection scheme in that location, because ultimately we have to build a wall in the river which wraps round that building, and there’s no way I can allow our operatives to go in and construct a flood wall with the risk or threat of a building collapsing on top of them.”

Mr Price described the partial tearing down of the building as “the best way forward at this point”.

“It is a massively difficult situation,” he admitted. “I would much rather the building was still standing, that we could go and build our flood scheme, that it would ultimately protect the building and it didn’t fall down - but that’s not the current situation that we’re faced with."

Hawick councillor Stuart Marshall added: “It’s great to hear that an agreement has been reached between those responsible for building our town’s flood defences and the owner of the Bistro.

“Since it partially collapsed into the swollen River Slitrig over a year ago the building has been deteriorating rapidly each time we experience high river levels, so the quicker it’s made safe the better for everyone.

"The couple who owned the business are so well liked and respected in our town and all of us in Hawick feel so sad that their once thriving livelihood has suffered in this way, but it only re-enforces the urgency now to press on and get this flood scheme built at this part of our town before other businesses and property owners have to go through the same living nightmare as endured by this couple.”