Momentum builds on bid to save Jedburgh site as petition is launched

Attempts to save a historic Jedburgh building from demolition have taken another step forward with the creation of a petition which will be presented to politicians if enough people back it.

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 10:42 am
Updated Thursday, 21st November 2019, 10:51 am
Rob Armstrong, Jedburgh

The four-storey building on the corner of High Street and Exchange Street has been shrouded in scaffolding for more than four years, and a decision is imminent over the local authority’s application to pull it down.

Scottish Borders Council announced its plans for the category C listed Georgian building in August, saying it would rebuild on the gap site with funding from historic Environment Scotland.

But since then murmurs of discontent over its potential loss have been heard across the town, and none more so than from Rob Armstrong, who after acquiring copies of five different surveyor reports on the building, believes it can and should be saved.

“We have choices, but right now people don’t think they have a choice,” Rob said.

“I’ve been speaking to shop owners and random people in the street and most of them say they would rather see the original building stay, but as far as they know it is dangerous and has to come down and that the decision has already been made.

“People have been brainwashed. It’s a smear campaign saying that the scaffold is holding the building up.

“After several structural surveys, it has come to light that the building is repairable, and not in any imminent danger of collapse.

“Engineers reports have shown only lighter renovation works are required to restore this building to its former glory.

“It’s ridiculous. People need to have the facts. This petition may allow us to push for a public enquiry which could delay any demolition.”

The petition, launched on Tuesday, will be presented to the local authority and the Scottish Government if enough names are gathered.

“It’s a legal document and something which has to be taken into consideration if it receives enough signatures,” Rob, 50, added. “I think we are going to get a lot of support locally. And being an online petition we can gather support from all over.”

The antique and classic car consultant has previously secured listed building status for several Hawick buildings and works closely with the Buildings at Risk register.

“I’ve been around long enough to know that knocking buildings down in towns that don’t have great economies but have great beauty is a bad idea,” he said.

“It’s a very blinkered way of moving forward. This building is part of the historical townscape and it deserves to be saved. It could end up sitting derelict site for the next 20 years.

“Part of the problem is people have started to lose sight of what is behind the scaffold.

“But what we have is a fantastic building there. Sink a small fortune into restoring that one rather than knocking it down and spending a large fortune replacing it.”

The council’s planners are yet to make a decision on the demolition bid, but officers have backed it for approval.

Last month, planning committee chairman Tom Miers suggested councillors’ hands were tied by legislation.

He suggested that demolition will start as soon as ownership is secured and that architects have already been appointed to develop a design for a replacement building.

A further update on that here: https://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/council-yet-secure-ownership-over-jedburghs-problem-building-1318181The petition can be found online at www.change.org/p/scottish-borders-council-save-jedburgh-s-iconic-architecture or by searching Save Jedburgh’s Iconic Architecture on Facebook.