Red card shown to bid to convert old Hawick pub into flat

The former Mansfield Bar in Hawick.
The former Mansfield Bar in Hawick.

A bid to convert a former bar once popular with rugby fans into a flat has been shown the red card.

Hawick’s Mansfield Bar was shut in April after failing to find a buyer despite having been on the market for years, and owners Brian and Susan Lee had applied for consent to convert it into a three-bedroom flat.

Their application was rejected by Scottish Borders Council planning officials due to the risk of flooding posed by the nearby River Teviot, however.

The Lees’ agent, Galashiels firm Aitken Turnbull Architects, explained that move saying: “The Mansfield Bar had been run as a successful public house over a long number of years.

“However, the economic decline of the traditional working mills in the area, along with a change in the social habits of the local population, produced a severe, and terminal, decline in business.

“Consequently, the owners regrettably closed the doors of the public house in April of this year.

“Prior to this, the business had been up for sale as a going concern for five years. However, there had been little interest and no offers in that time.

“In view of this, the owners have explored alternative uses of the building and decided that the only viable use is as residential accommodation.

“The applicant acknowledges that the area is susceptible to flooding. However, there are many other residential properties at ground-floor level in the same area.

“It is expected that the flooding risk will be significantly reduced on the completion of the Hawick flood protection scheme.

“The applicant also acknowledges that there is no off-street parking available for this property.

“However, there is ample on-street parking in the vicinity, and it is anticipated that the proposed residential use will not generate any more parking demand than the public house.”

However, council planning officers, acting under delegated powers, have refused the application due to what they describe as a significant risk of flooding, meaning the Mansfield Road bar must remain designated as a pub, albeit a disused one, for now.

“This proposal would introduce a new residential property into the functional flood plain of the River Teviot, “ says planning officer Stuart Herkes in his report on the application.

“Material in this respect is that the proposed residential use would be more vulnerable to flood risk than the existing public bar use.”

“Moreover, there is unfortunately no ability for this risk to be mitigated through the application of any practical measures.

“The flood risk concern here is understood to be insurmountable in the present circumstances.”

The go-ahead might be given for the pub’s conversion following the antiipated completion of Hawick’s proposed £44m flood defences in 2022, however.

“The potential for the proposal to be supported might reasonably be reviewed further to the implementation of the Hawick flood defences scheme within a future planning application,” adds Mr Herkes.

“Any future version of this proposal would need to be considered on its own merits and in relation to the planning policies and circumstances on site prevailing at that time, which may include mitigation afforded by the flood defences when these are delivered.”