Wetherspoon plan for Cross Keys will mean 40 Peebles jobs

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AROUND 40 jobs will be created with the opening of a JD Wetherspoon premises in Peebles, TheSouthern can reveal.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) members on Monday supported the application by the pub and restaurant giant to alter and refurbish the former Cross Keys Hotel, which has lain empty for a year, and demolish a toilet block.

Approval was granted at the Northgate site in the face of a series of objections concerning issues such as increased traffic, noise pollution and litter, cooking smells and detriment to road safety.

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon confirmed that 40 full-time and part-time staff would be recruited at the company’s latest bar.

He told TheSouthern: “We are delighted that planning has been approved and we are as keen as ever to open a pub in Peebles.

“We believe that our style of pub will be welcomed in the area and be an asset to the town and its residents and visitors.”

Mr Gershon added there was no opening date for what would be the third Wetherspoon in the Borders.

However, writing to SBC’s planning department, Peebles resident Jill Drummond said: “Allowing a large pub to open in this part of the Northgate will reduce the quality of the area and affect neighbouring residents unfairly.

“The street is relatively quiet, particularly at night, and this peace will be shattered by a large-scale pub with a huge external garden and late licensing hours.”

Fellow objector Brian Roche wrote: “This application is all but a pub in name, by a national drinks operator whose policy of high-volume customer venues combined with low-priced drinks will seriously impact on this part of Peebles.”

There are also worries among the Tweeddale town’s licenced trade about how Wetherspoon would affect their businesses.

But councillors on the planning committee were told that rather than turning the Cross Keys into a giant pub, Wetherspoon would retain seven bedrooms.

With regards to parking concerns, SBC planning officer Craig Miller said: “The application is not for any change of use and there can consequently be no justification to refuse an application for refurbishment and external alterations on the basis of increased traffic and parking impacts.”

Mr Miller added that environmental health had raised no objections to the development on potential noise thresholds and odour emissions.

Peebles councillor Catriona Bhatia said: “We have been fortunate in Peebles to have no big pub chains, but we have many good local hosterlries which, I’m sure, will rise to the challenge. It is also good to see such an attractive and prominent building put back into use.”

The B-listed building dates back to the 17th century, though much of the interior has been altered.

Plans include removing a number of walls and forming new toilets on the first floor.

News emerged in April last year that Wetherspoon was intent on opening a premises in the Cross Keys.

The company runs Hunter’s Hall in Galashiels and unveiled The Bourtree in Hawick last year, which created 50 jobs.