Restoration of derelict Galashiels flats gets go-ahead

The block of homes at Kirk Brae are to be refurbished.The block of homes at Kirk Brae are to be refurbished.
The block of homes at Kirk Brae are to be refurbished.
A historic apartment block in Galashiels which have been described as “destitute and dangerous” is to be given a new lease of life.

Scottish Borders Council has rubber-stamped a planning application for the refurbishment of nine category C Listed apartments at 69 to 77 Kirk Brae, a building which dates back to 1888.

Regarded as a fine example of late 19th century tenement buildings it is currently on the ‘Buildings at Risk’ register.

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Two stories of floors have collapsed due to an extended period of water ingress and there are signs of fire damage.

The extensive work will include the replacement of windows, internal alterations and removal of the existing toilet block.

The applicant, Glasgow-based Respindo Developments Limited, is aiming to retain as much of the original structure as possible.

A report submitted with the application from Michael Angus, of Galashiels-based Angus Architecture Limited, quoted the observations of Historic Scotland on the building, saying: “The Kirk Brae tenements have the stonework and detailing superior to other late 19th housing in the area and are a rare survival in their original form, with an imposing presence and streetscape value.”

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In his report approving the application, Scottish Borders Council’s lead planning officer Carlos Clarke notes the observations of the authority’s Heritage and Design section, which stated: “Sensitive refurbishment of these prominent listed buildings and their return to use is welcomed. The repairs generally involve repairs on a like for like or sensitive manner and can largely accepted.”

There was an objection from the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland to the building being fitted with uPVC windows, which was labelled “hugely inappropriate”.

The council report adds: “The original building would have had timber sash and case windows throughout. It would be most appropriate for timber windows to be installed, however UPVc sash windows can be accepted in this case.”