Plans to extend historic Melrose pub given thumbs-up

The King's Arms in Melrose.
The King's Arms in Melrose.

A historic Borders pub closed for the past year has been given the go-ahead to add a side extension and could be about to undergo a facelift too.

The King’s Arms in Melrose High Street, believed to date back to the 1820s, has been shut since January last year, but moves are now afoot to reopen it in expanded form.

Owner Punch Taverns has been given the thumbs-up by Scottish Borders Council planners to build a single-storey side extension to create a new restaurant area and for internal alterations, a move set to yield up to a dozen new jobs.

It has now submitted a further application to repaint stone features on its frontage.

A spokesperson for the Staffordshire-based pub chain said: “The King’s Arms is undergoing an investment that will transform it from its current condition to a modern, welcoming destination with accommodation which will retain its great features.

“The refurbishment will cover the bar, restaurant, an upgrade to the kitchen, upgrades to the existing eight bedrooms, plus external dining and drinking areas.

“Food covers will be extended to 80.

“Overall, the site will be rejuvenated and will provide a facility required by the town.

“The eight existing guest rooms will be given a beautiful new interior scheme, and the function room is going to be updated to create a further four bedrooms in 2019.

“The existing kitchen will also receive a complete upgrade to ensure a fully operational catering facility, and all toilets will receive a complete refurbishment.

“External decking will be covered to create an all-year-round facility also with beer garden benching.

“Given the current economic climate and declining numbers of pubs, those which still exist have to offer more than just burgers and chips and cheap beer if they are to have a viable and sustainable future.

“The pub has never had a bespoke restaurant area that could welcome foodies with confidence, as well as catering for paying guests of the hotel, and this offers that opportunity.

“Where possible, local building materials and companies would be used to aid and sustain local economic growth.

“It is envisaged that once the works are complete, the hotel would be employing eight to 12 employees on a full-time and part-time basis.

“This number may increase during the tourist season.”

The King’s Arms is one of five pubs in Melrose, the others being the George and Abbotsford Hotel, Burt’s Hotel, Station Hotel and Ship Inn.

Dawn Barrett, owner of the neighbouring George and Abbotsford Hotel, registered an objection to the extension plans, saying they would lead to there being too many eating establishments in the town and potentially generate more noise.

She also expressed concerns about potential for increased traffic and more parking problems in High Street.

Those reservations were overruled by lead planning officer Julie Hayward, however, and consent was granted subject to conditions including co-operation with archaeologists ahead of work commencing to ensure that no historic features are damaged.