A NEW chapter as a four-bedroom family home could await a former reading room and library in a Borders town.

The concept of Earlston’s Reading Room and Lending Library was proposed to residents in 1852 when George Baillie, 10th Earl of Haddington, agreed to fund the building of a dedicated reading room on land he owned in Earlston’s Market Place.

The original building had a large room to allow for public meetings and a stage for lectures. In 1897 the building was extended and the ceiling in the reading room was lowered to create a recreation room above and a staircase was installed to connect the floors.

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In 1944 a public library was introduced to the space but the use of the building started to decline in 1960s and when the library moved to the local school the recreation room closed.

Leaks and repairs started to be too expense to fund, with regular use of the space ending in 1970s.

The building is currently in an extremely poor and derelict condition which fails to achieve the most basic of accommodation standards due to a prolonged period of disuse.

Now a planning application, from Edinburgh-based Barry McCormick, has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council for the conversion of the Reading Room and Library into a four bedroom family home.

A report submitted with the application, from WT Architecture, says: “The building has architectural and historical merit, is capable of conversion and is suitable for residential use. The proposal is to repair and restore the outer shell of the building and upgrade the internal spaces to modern standards to make an energy efficient and sustainable future for the building.

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“No alterations are proposed to the elevations of the building. Any damaged fabric will be repaired and replaced to match existing. Existing glazed windows, and roof-lights are to be replaced with timber double glazed units. All masonry is the be repair and re-pointed.

“The converted building would be upgraded to achieve new fire safety standards and vastly improved energy standards. The building comes with very limited external space and therefore it is not possible to provide any dedicated parking spaces for the dwelling due to this physical restraint.

“However the location of the dwelling is very central to the village and served by bus routes which connect to the Borders Railway. There is public car parking directly in front of the property, and further available street parking nearby.”