Planning consent being granted for an apartment block at an old knitwear factory in Hawick doesn’t necessarily pave the way for the whole site to be converted into housing, a developer has been warned.
Approval has been granted for part of the old Peter Scott plant in Buccleuch Street to be converted into 10 apartments for older people.
The factory, closed in August 2016 after operating for nearly 150 years, has stood empty since then and has become a regular target for vandals.
The application was submitted by Galashiels-based Aitken Turnbull Architects on behalf of Pesco Developments, an offshoot of Maramar Holdings, the West Yorkshire company that bought the site in July 2017.
The plan is to demolish part of the factory’s production area and yarn store to make way for two-bedroom apartments for people over the age of 55.
The landmark chimney at the site is to be retained, as are many internal features and fittings.
Approving the conversion bid, submitted in April last year, council planning officer Stuart Herkes said the proposals “address a long-standing eyesore while conserving an important historic building within Hawick’s townscape”.
However, Mr Herkes emphasised that that approval does not automatically guarantee that consent will be forthcoming for the rest of the former factory site will be converted for residential use.
He added: “While it is understood that the applicant envisages the current proposal as stage one within a wider residential development of the Peter Scott factory site, this is not reasonably understood to be the context in which the current proposal would be brought forward.
“The proposal before the planning authority relates to only one building within the factory site.
“As such, no assumption can be made with respect to the conversion or redevelopment of the factory site for residential use.
“This would only reasonably be taken forward with a subsequent planning application, which would need to be determined on its own planning merits at the time.
“As such, and in advance of the submission and approval of any such application, there remains the potential for the remainder of the site to remain vacant, or to be reactivated in an employment use.
“The proposed residential flats might ultimately coexist on the factory site alongside employment, even industrial, operations or perhaps, as at present, still-vacant buildings if no new use can be found for these surrounding structures.
“Ultimately, something needs to be done to bring the site, or as much of the site as possible, back into a productive use, and the current proposal is a credible way to advance this, notwithstanding that it would have been more comfortably advanced within the context of a wider redevelopment proposal for the entire former factory site.”
The forthcoming conversion has been welcomed by Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson, a former Peter Scott employee.
He said: “It brings yet another disused mill into use.
“I would hate to have seen it lying derelict.”
Council officers have agreed to waive the affordable housing contributions usually charged for such developments, previously a bone of contention for Maramar Holdings, after taking into account the expense involved in converting a listed building sited within a conservation area.