Planning committee today agreed restoration of 15th century Hawick castle

How Cavers Castle will look following restoration. Image: SBCHow Cavers Castle will look following restoration. Image: SBC
How Cavers Castle will look following restoration. Image: SBC
Vote of six to two in favour of application.

A crumbling 15th century castle near Hawick is to be restored to its former glory, councillors on a planning committee agreed this week.

Cavers Castle, located between the Bonchester road and Rubberslaw, is a listed building also known as Cavers House.

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It is on the ‘building at risk’ register and applicant Julie Sharrer submitted a planning bid to Scottish Borders Council for its reinstatement, together with alterations and extensions to the derelict structure.

The Ruins Of Cavers CastleThe Ruins Of Cavers Castle
The Ruins Of Cavers Castle

The ambition is to “restore the grandeur befitting of a stately home”, which was once a 64-room family residence.

The initial proposal was for a Class 7 use – hotel, bed and breakfast or hostel – but this has now been revised to a Class 9 use – family home only.

When members of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee met today they were recommended to approve the application, after concerns around road access and the presence of an endangered species were addressed.

The planning bid was approved by six votes to two.

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Jedburgh & District ward Councillor Sandy Scott said: “I have no objection. We have done things with the newts so they are protected, so I’d go along with the officer’s recommendation.”

Tweeddale East ward’s Councillor Marshall Douglas said: “I do have concerns about the development. It’s not just a reinstatement, it is basically a rebuild. The original building is very much a ruin, deliberately ruined by the previous owners, so there isn’t a history of an historic family maintaining the property for generations, it is very much a deliberate ruin.

“I think it is important that we stick to the conditions carefully, particularly the condition that the property is only used as a domestic dwelling and that there is no chance of it being used for bed and breakfast or short-term lets. With the conditions I’m happy to go along with the officers.”

Tweedddale West ward’s Councillor Viv Thomson said: “Having had the opportunity to go to the site I can understand why the applicant wants to build there, it is beautiful and the building as it stands is beautiful as well and it’s really good that someone wants to take on one of our historic buildings.”

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Committee chair, Kelso & District’s Councillor Simon Mountford said: “If it is successful then it will bring back to life an historic building and that is to be welcomed but there are challenges and the access is a challenge. The case officer has dealt with that and is satisfied there is a legal right of access. On balance I too support this application.”

But East Berwickshire ward’s Councillor Aileen Orr expressed “grave reservations” over the plans, particularly with regard to access issues.

She said: “The access road to the left of the house, the last house before going down, I’m just really concerned how close that would be. The other thing is the amount of objections locally is of concern to me. I would need to be assured that this was actually going to enhance the community and not detract from it and I would prefer not to support the officers.”

Mid Berwickshire councillor Donald Moffat said he had “mixed feelings” over the proposed development.

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He said: “I do feel it has great potential and some of the concerns I had originally had have been dealt with by officers. On balance I’m not 100 per cent sure.”

Hawick & Denholm Councillor Neil Richards added: “The building is considered to be acceptable but it no way restores the historic building. The impact on the two houses that has the track by them will have a considerable impact on their residential amenity, my guts tell me I have to oppose this.”

The currently roofless castle is steeped in history and was once associated with the legendary Douglas dynasty.

It has gone through many alterations through the centuries and was partially demolished in 1953.

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The building now stands in a state of deterioration and a design statement, submitted with the planning application by Galashiels-based Camerons Strachan Yuill Architects, outlined the plans for the historic structure.

It said: “The vision for Cavers Castle is to restore its existence as a habitable home and also make the grounds more accessible to visitors to the area. The proposals seek to save the building, categorised as ‘at risk’, from falling into further ruin and provide a secure future for it in a way that is respectful to the historic character and setting.”