Flat plans approved at Peebles hotel site

Councillors have approved plans to convert a historic hotel in Peebles into flats.

The former Castle Venlaw Hotel, on the western slopes of Venlaw Hill, has been up for sale for more than three years, and has been vacant since owners Roy and Lorna Curry closed the business in December 2017.

Flat plans approved at Peebles hotel site

Now, the couple are proposing to convert the 12-bedroom property into eight separate residences, as well as adding an extension to the north side of the building to house a further three flats.

Two proposals were submitted to Scottish Borders Council after the Currys’ first design triggered an objection from Historic Environment Scotland. The heritage body is concerned the extension will “result in significant negative intervention affecting the special architectural and historic interest of Castle Venlaw”.

The second proposal is largely the same, but rather than being housed in an extension, the new flats would be built two metres away from the main building as a stand-alone development.

The council’s planning and building standards committee gave its blessing to both conversion bid options on March 25 but because Castle Venlaw is a category-B listed building, the proposals now need further approval from the Scottish Government.

Appearing before the committee on behalf of the Currys, Derek Scott, of Derek Scott Planning and EMA Architects, said: “Roy and Lorna Curry are two very experienced hoteliers, and have owned and operated a number of such hotels in the last 30 years.

“With that experience, and benefit of local knowledge, they were confident that they could return the hotel into a profitable enterprise. Unfortunately that was not to be the case.

“In the first four years of their ownership, during which neither partner withdrew a salary, they incurred financial losses in excess of £100,000 per annum.

“I would stress to you this morning that our clients will only recover a fraction of their losses from this project.

“There a number of planning issues to be considered. The first is the overriding need to find an alternative use for this vacant listed building, the condition of which, as already evidenced through dampness and water penetration, could deteriorate very quickly.

“The second is the principle of changing the building’s use to residential accommodation. Given the marketing and trading history, it is clear that the property is not suitable, nor does it offer significant potential for use as a hotel.

“Converting the property to residential use seems the most obvious and logical option.”

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