Former hotel in Kelso to be converted into cafe

The old Border Hotel in Kelso's Woodmarket.
The old Border Hotel in Kelso's Woodmarket.

A former hotel and guesthouse in Kelso town centre is to be converted into a cafe and holiday apartments.

The old Border Hotel in Woodmarket has been standing empty for over a year, but it is now set to be given a new lease of life.

Its owner, Paul Gaunt, of R&Y Properties in Kelso, has been given the green light by Scottish Borders Council planners for the conversion of the four-floor building, previously a 12-bedroom guesthouse.

The cafe will take up all of the early 19th century building’s ground and first floors, with its upper two floors hosting self-catering holiday accommodation.

That application was backed by Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston.

He said: “I would like to support this application for a change of use for this building in a prominent part of Kelso town centre.

“It has stood empty for a long time and is badly in need of restoration.

“While the loss of a hotel is disappointing, the fact that there will be holiday lets in the building and a cafe is supporting tourism in the town and is putting the building back into use.

“It’s encouraging that people are still willing to invest in Kelso, and I think the application is in keeping with trying to keep the town vibrant and footfall up, which is vital to keep the town centre a place that people want to visit.”

Kelso architect Ray Licence, acting as an agent for Mr Gaunt, said in a supporting statement: “This is an important facade building in the centre of Kelso which has, for many years, suffered from neglect to the detriment of the now-enhanced town centre.

“This is an opportunity to enhance the external appearance of the building and provide Kelso with additional tourist accommodation and a top-quality cafe for use by locals and tourists in a central location.

“The building is within the Kelso conservation area and is listed category C.

“The facade plays an important part in the Kelso townscape and would benefit from some much-needed maintenance and enhancement.”

Work on the conversion, approved under delegated powers subject to various conditions, is expected to start soon.

The application also had the support of Kelso Community Council and Kelso and District Amenity Society, with the latter saying: “The society is happy to support this change of use and finds the alterations sympathetic and of a high standard.

“We admire the applicant’s decision to retain many of the original features.”