Stow’s taken a hit with demolition of hotel

I refer to your article last week on the demolition of the Royal Hotel in Stow.

While there is great joy that a dangerous building has finally been removed from the centre of Stow, it is important to remember that it was also once a hotel, pub, function suite, restaurant, social hub and a building which had stood in the centre of the village for 150 years.

It was for that reason that many people tried hard to save it for so long.

The demolition of a dangerous building was the easy bit. It is very sad that the last chance of this village getting a replacement has finally gone.

In all the talk of the returning railway and the future prospects for tourism and prosperity of the Gala Water, it is incredible to think that Stow will be unable to benefit from that future, other than to increase its capacity to service the commuter sector of the housing market.

It is important that whatever comes next for this very important site, it is both imaginative and in keeping with the rest of the conservation area of Stow, without being simply a modern repeat of what stood there before.

The Townfoot area of Stow was created as a master plan for the whole village in an architectural competition. Could this be the case again for any future developer, to find an architect who can think beyond the easy option?

Our Edinburgh-based MSP Christine Grahame said she was “delighted” to see it go.

If she had put any effort into saving the building before 2008 it may not have got into the sorry state which necessitated its final removal. At a crucial time, when an attempt was being made to save the hotel, her headline-making public meeting in Stow simply demanded it be demolished, and she did not, at any time, attempt to talk to the people trying to preserve it as a community asset for the good of the whole valley community.

So much for supporting local industry and development.

It seems so lacking in joined-up-thinking to call for the removal of a potential hotel refurbishment at the same time as supporting the Borders railway as the saviour of the region’s economy. Anyway, it is now gone and we must look to the future.

I sincerely hope that any future plans can be agreed with the help of Stow Community Council and the greater community, so that we get something of which we can be very proud to erase the memory of the last 15 years.

Sandy Aitchison

Craigend Road