No bidders for controversial Earlston site

Published: 2 Jun 2014 07:000 comments

By Andrew Keddie

UNCERTAINTY surrounds the future of a piece of land in Earlston.

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Four parties, including Scottish Borders Council, had expressed an interest in acquiring the Cauldie, at Mill Meadow.

The riverside plot is owned by the Crown which valued it at £25,000.

As revealed in these columns, the council’s executive decided earlier this month not to tender a bid ahead of the May 16 deadline.

It has now emerged that no actual bids were received by the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR) – the Crown’s Scottish representative for ownerless property – by that date.

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “The QLTR will be in contact with the parties who had expressed an interest in the land before taking any final decision.

“The QLTR has not taken possession of the land and has no responsibility for it.”

The council, believing it owned the Cauldie, maintained it for decades, and was due to lease it to a community trust for a peppercorn rent before it was discovered that the land had, in fact, reverted to the Crown when the textile mill which once operated there was dissolved.

However, the trust’s bid for lottery funding for a play park at the site, was rejected and the council felt it could not afford the cost of acquisition or, indeed, the land’s continued maintenance.

Council leader David Parker told us: “It is a complicated situation, but the QLTR has now written to us, along with the other interested parties who also failed to put in a bid, giving us a month to come up with an agreed proposal about what should happen to the Cauldie going forward.

“The best scenario is that the council is given this attractive amenity area on a peppercorn rent so we can properly maintain it.”

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