Plans being drawn up to turn Peebles hotel into apartments

The Castle Venlaw Hotel at Peebles.
The Castle Venlaw Hotel at Peebles.

Plans have been drawn up for the conversion of a historic Peebles hotel into 11 apartments.

The conversion work proposed would involve partial demolition of the Castle Venlaw Hotel in the town’s Edinburgh Road and also the creation of an extension.

The 12-bedroom hotel has been on the market for over two years for offers around £875,000 but remains unsold.

It was closed as a business by owners Roy and Lorna Curry two months ago after operating at a loss for years.

A spokesperson for the applicant, Rikeja, a company set up by Mr and Mrs Curry in 2011 and registered in Ireland, said: “The property was put on the market by industry specialist Bruce and Co in July 2015, but potential purchasers have not been able to finance a purchase.

“The hotel has failed to operate as a profitable commercial enterprise for the past six years, having been bought out of administration by the present owners in November 2011.

“Attempts to market the hotel as a going concern since July 2015 have proved unsuccessful.

“As the owners are unable to sustain further losses the continued use of the property as a hotel is no longer an option and an alternative use needs to be found for it.

“The proposal to alter, extend and convert the hotel to form 11 apartments represents an appropriate use for the building, restoring it to its original residential use and, by doing so, increasing the choice and range of accommodation available in the area.

“The alterations required to facilitate that change of use can be undertaken in a manner which not only preserves but also enhances the character and appearance of the building.”

The property, sitting in 12 acres of woodland, was originally built as a house on the site of the old Smithfield Castle in 1782 by Alexander Stevenson, then sheriff deputy of Peebleshire, and named Venlaw Castle.

A further storey was added to the original house in 1885, and a baronial wing followed seven years later.

During the First World War, the mansion was used as a barracks for up to 30 naval officers, as well as being an auxiliary Red Cross hospital.

It was turned into a hotel in 1949 by Alexander Cumming and Jean Brownlee, changing hands in 1997 and 2007, being taken over first by John and Shirley Sloggie then by PAG Hotels.

It went into administration in 2011 and was bought in November of that year by Mr and Mrs Curry, but they have failed to break even in any of the last seven years, leading to the hotel’s closure at the end of 2017.

The application to Scottish Borders Council for change of use of the building and alterations includes plans for the demolition of an existing flat-roofed extension and the construction of a new extension at the north end of the building.