A RETROSPECTIVE planning bid for the conversion of a former Royal Bank of Scotland premises into an alcohol-selling café has been rubber-stamped.

Scottish Borders Council has granted planning approval to Alan Thomson, of Priorsdene, Melrose, for an application to change the use of the Cullen and Kilshaw Royal Bank Chambers office at High Street in Melrose for retail use, a workshop and a café selling alcohol.

There were submissions of both support and opposition to the proposal.

One of the opponents, Gillian Todd, said there were already enough eating and drinking outlets in Melrose, adding: “From my understanding the application is for a café which I presume would only be open during the day, so not sure why the need for alcohol.

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“There are certainly enough places in Melrose for eating and drinking alcohol and in my opinion another establishment opening could be classed as over-provision. I may also add that although a planning application has been submitted that the establishment is now open and presently running as a café.”

Supporter Annette Fleming said: “I have lived in close proximity to the property for 16 years, the offices have lain empty for a number of years now. The back of the property was overgrown with litter strewn all around which had a detrimental effect on this part of the town. The change will enhance this part of Melrose’s High Street. It will benefit local residents and visitors alike.

“Whilst Melrose is well-served for places to eat, visitor numbers are such that there is plenty of scope for an additional café.”

In her report, Julie Hayward, the council’s lead planning officer, says: “The building to which this application relates is the former Royal Bank of Scotland premises situated on the corner of the High Street and St Dunstan’s Lane in Melrose.

“The proposal will bring a long-vacant building back into town centre use and provide a facility for residents and visitors to the town, benefitting the local economy. The number of similar establishments is not a planning issue.”