A BORDERS nightclub owner has lodged a proposal to turn the venue into flats – but he has described the move as a contingency plan.

Ian Hastings has owned The Vibe in Kelso with his wife since 1990.

A planning application, submitted to Scottish Borders Council last Wednesday (April 28), outlines a proposal to turn the nightclub into 13 two-bed apartments and one duplex unit, also with two bedrooms.

However, Mr Hastings says the future of the Kelso venue will depend on coronavirus regulations placed on nightclubs.

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He told the Border Telegraph: “The fact that a planning application has been submitted does not mean that the site will be redeveloped in the near future.

“Much depends on the regulations which will be introduced to make nightclubs COVID-compliant.

“It could be that the authorities insist on the installation of air conditioning, social distancing, table service, proof of COVID testing or vaccination and other measures which will make nightclubs almost impossible to run profitably, especially in a small town.

“Alternatively the regulations may be easy to comply with and The Vibe will continue as before.”

According to papers submitted to the council, the redevelopment of 5 Vault Square would consist of “a mixture of conversion and new build and will be constructed to a high quality to provide affordable housing”.

The papers add that six undercroft parking spaces would be provided, as well as a “secure bicycle store”.

Mr Hastings said: “It makes sound business sense to have contingency plans in place but at this time no decisions have been made or will be until the government's regulations for reopening are known."

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On Friday (April 30), it was reported that the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland had announced its intention to commence legal action against the Scottish Government about the current restrictions on the industry.

In the NTIA statement, the support provided by the Scottish Government is described as “wholly inadequate”.

The lack of an end date for the restrictions make businesses in the sector “commercially unviable”, the statement adds.

Current restrictions in Scotland state that alcohol can only be served in outdoor settings, while venues must close indoors at 8pm.

An NTIA spokesperson said: “Fixed costs such as rent, insurance, staff furlough costs, etc, have far exceeded the income coming in from revenue and grants, resulting in the typical small business owner in our sector incurring around £150,000 in COVID-related debt per premises.”

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The spokesperson added: “We accept that restrictions were initially necessary in the interests of public health, and indeed we not only fully supported previous measures taken, but also actively promoted the Government’s public health messages via social media channels and to our customer base.

“However, thanks to the heroic efforts of our NHS workers, vaccine researchers, and scientists, and the immensely successful roll-out of the vaccine, COVID-19 no longer presents the threat to public health that it did even a few short months ago.”

The Scottish Government was approached for comment.