‘Jumping out of the frying pan into fire’

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decision has received a cautious welcome.

Hawick Councillor Jock Houston who chairs the planning committee told the Hawick News: “The application was passed unanimously with a strong feeling that there was no possibility of any development work taking place within six months of demolition, and therefore it is vital to have the buildings removed before another severe winter causes a collapse.”

But speaking as a local ward member, he cautioned: “I fear we may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire as the owner has three years to carry this out, so it may be an eyesore for some time yet, and there is the danger that the site is not looked after.”

And added: “This is not a good result for Hawick, and has not solved the problem.”

Yet Mr Stevenson has told the Hawick News that he is thrilled with the council’s decision – and revealed his intentions to begin knocking down the derelict mill within weeks.

“I am delighted that we have finally received consent to proceed with demolition at Commercial Road,” he stated.

“In the present economic climate it is impossible to accurately forecast what may or may not occur on the site however the marketing will be much easier by having a clear site. There are various practical issues which have to occur prior to demolition, however we would hope that this can be completed in the next few weeks.”

That is certainly the wish of local councillor Stuart Marshall, who commented: “The timescale for demolition is in the hands of the developer, but I would reiterate my grave concerns for the safety of this building, and hope these are at the forefront of his mind, and he doesn’t use the timescale that was set, to the maximum.”

This is shared by councillor and nearby resident Zandra Elliot, who added: “I’m pleased the committee has lifted the six months condition, and can only hope the works will be carried out sooner, rather than later.”

Mr Stevenson must now produce a detailed plan of how the buildings – which include an unused garage and lodge house – will be brought down, and materials retained for possible future re-use. He must also allow an archaeological assessment, and has agreed to erect an eight-foot high fence to secure the site. Demolition work is expected to last two to three months, with Transport Scotland responsible for traffic management on the adjacent A7 trunk road during that time.

But in a further twist to the ongoing saga of Wilton Mill, which was deemed near “total collapse” three years ago, the Hawick News understands that a bill of more than £44,000 for scaffolding erected by the council still remains upaid and is in the hands of the courts.