Heritage society’s plea to save historic country house

Wednesday April 12th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

A leading heritage society has urged Scottish Borders Council to think twice before flattening an historic 19th century country house.

The local authority is considering a number of options for Lowood House on the banks of the River Tweed near Melrose.

A report considered by councillors earlier this month suggested the preferred option was demolition at a cost of £450,000, as it would also free up more land for new housing.

But Leaderdale and Melrose councillor John PatonDay suggested the property deserved “a little respect” and called for the house to be put on the open market first.

Now the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS) has stepped into the debate, calling on the local authority to delay a final decision pending the preparation of a conservation plan and exploration of other options, for example, retaining the house for letting to groups.

In a letter to the council, James Seabridge-Cooper, convener of the Forth & Borders Cases Panel of the AHSS, says: “Lowood House is presently a local asset, presumably worth at least £1m even without its wider estate, and to spend £450,000 destroying a £1m asset seems a significant waste of taxpayer’s resources.

“This is exactly the kind of place large groups of tourists seek to rent by the week, so if the report does not mention using it as single occupancy accommodation, it is a serious omission from the research.

“We urge you to support the principles of sustainability and to make every effort to retain, repair and adapt Lowood House, modifying as necessary the layout of Tweedbank expansion to permit its re-use.”

Scottish Borders Council bought the Lowood estate five years ago to extend the village of Tweedbank, purchasing the land for about £11m in the hope of providing new homes in the area and creating hundreds of new jobs.

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