Vermin fears at former Almstrongs building

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FEARS are growing over potential vermin issues at a derelict Oliver Crescent building.

Concerns were expressed recently about the former Almstrongs premises, which is situated just off the town’s High Street.

Hawick Community Councillor Cameron Knox said: “If you walk around by the old Almstrongs shop the building is a total disgrace to the town.

“The fascia is broken and the roof is broken down. There are pigeons getting in and there are probably rats in there now as well.”

The property is situated within the town’s Conservation Area and is listed by Historic Scotland.

However, it has been boarded up for some time and is also included on the Buildings at Risk Scotland register.

At the end of February a complaint was received regarding the condition of the building with allegations of vermin infestation.

But a spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: “Officers from our Regulatory Services team visited the area and found no indication of any rodent infestation. The building was noted to be open to pigeon ingress.

“The owner was contacted in March and he confirmed in writing that the building would be made vermin proof, that a vermin survey would be undertaken and any infestation treated. SBC took steps to make sure the pavement area was cleaned.”

A planning application in 2006 to transform the premises into 19 flats was approved. And a proposal to convert the bottom half of the building into three townhouses was given the green light last year. However, to date, no work has begun.

Local councillor Ron Smith said: “The gaps in the roof, allowing rain and pigeons to enter, can only contribute to its deteriorating state.

“In my view, this building currently highlights the problem of absentee owners having neither care nor responsibility towards the community their properties are in.”