Jedburgh set for new look as architects come forward with building replacement plans

The centre of Jedburgh could soon look very different, as Scottish Borders Council is preparing a planning application for a building to replace what is described as a “structurally unsound” corner building at the Market Place.

By Kevin Janiak
Friday, 17th July 2020, 1:03 pm
Updated Friday, 17th July 2020, 1:07 pm
Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton in front of the town's scaffolding-clad building in the square.
Jedburgh councillor Scott Hamilton in front of the town's scaffolding-clad building in the square.

The former ground-floor hair salon and upper-floor flats at the corner of 12 Market Place and 2 High Street have been shrouded in scaffolding for almost five years.

The council says the building has been allowed to deteriorate to a point where it is no longer feasible, either technically or financially, to retain it, and has now been asked to resubmit a compulsory purchase order to the Scottish Government after a technical and legal review.

Martin Joyce, director of assets and infrastructure told local councillors: “Please be assured this is simply a procedural matter, being undertaken solely at the Scottish Government’s request.

The designs architects came up with in a competition to design a new building to replace the scaffolded building in Jedburgh's Market Place. Council officers declared scheme A, above, the winner.

“Once the CPO is agreed, we will have a much clearer indication of the demolition and new build programme moving forward.”

While there is opposition to the building being demolished – with Minto resident Rob Armstrong saying that the dry rot within the building being localised and that the historic building is worth saving – the council has been forging ahead with plans for a new one.

Along with Eildon Housing Association, the local authority held a design competition for architects to develop a “sympathetic conceptual proposal” for a replacement building, with a brief to make it suitable for social housing and to “deliver an aspirational and quality scheme that will complement, in a contemporary manner, the historic town centre.

Four submissions were received, with council officers choosing one designed by Gray Macpherson Architects – who recently completed the award-winning Borders Distillery in Hawick – as the winning entry.

Scheme B

In this scheme, known as Scheme A, a series of options were proposed with a “framed building which has a strong profile at roof level, contemporary in design but with reference to traditional, recognisable forms”. It puts an emphasis on well-designed apartments with good natural light and views from all living and bedroom areas, and a disabled accessible apartment was put forward for street-level use, due to a lack of demand for retail floorspace in the current climate. Plans were also put forward for four and five-storey versions.

Of the other plans, Scheme B proposed a “new area of public realm within a sculptural building and smaller apartments placed at the north end of the site”. A café was proposed at ground level and a frame of silver larch defines an entrance to flats and a flexible retail space off the High Street.

Scheme C proposed to “retain the material and memory of the existing building and combine these with new construction methods”. Part of the existing stone façade would be retained and a new framed building is inserted inside. Flexible uses are proposed at ground floor with mainly residential and some community uses proposed at upper floors.

Scheme D proposes to “retain much of the existing fabric by providing a fusion of old and new”. Angled timber columns create an entrance to the building at ground floor level, while a glass roof pavilion housing a café is proposed at roof level. Social Housing is arranged at first, second and third-floor levels.

Scheme C

Councillor Scott Hamilton said: “This is a fantastic leap forward in finally bringing this long running saga to a close.

“The designs which have come forward are very different and eye catching and in my opinion embrace the old with the new.

“Jedburgh is a historical town with unique character and heritage.

“It’s important that the redesign gets maximum consultation in order to enhance and not detract from the sense of setting and place.

Scheme D

“With the devastating news of the two biggest employers in the town cutting their workforce only a number of weeks ago, today’s news is a good and well-deserved win for townsfolk.

“I am pleased that despite the lockdown and the immense resources which Scottish Borders Council has had to put into tackling this pandemic they have still been able to keep on course and deliver these draft proposals.

“I can only hope now that the Scottish Government can match SBC’s effort and accelerate the compulsory purchase order.

“By requiring the resubmission of the CPO is just needless dither and delay on the Scottish Government’s part.”

His Conservative colleague in the ward, Sandy Scott, said he has every sympathy with the frustration felt by the townsfolks in and around Jedburgh for the inconvenience caused by the scaffolding in the square, especially those in close proximity to it.

He told us: “It has not been easy negotiating with multiple owners, and as a result the bad news is that the Scottish Government has decided to extend the compulsory purchase period because of a technical and legal review.

“The good news is that the council officials have been getting their ducks in a row so that they can get on with the next stage as soon as the Scottish Government gives them the nod that the compulsory purchase order has been approved.

“The council has been working on the design of the new building, and is submitting a planning application as soon as the CPO comes through.”

Mr Hamilton said that while the winner has been chosen by council officers, it is still just an initial draft, and that a public consultation will be carried out.

He said: “I think the people of Jedburgh will be intrigued. I think there will be some reservations, but I think they will be happy to see the designs keeping the traditional side of the building and they will be quite pleased just to know that it is still progressing despite the coronavirus lockdown.”