AN HISTORIC Borders watering hole is to be transformed for the 21st century with time to be called on its famous U-shaped bar.

The Towns Inn Arms at 1 Market Place is part of the cultural and historical fabric of Selkirk.

Now plans submitted to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to significantly reconfigure the layout of the premises have been approved.

Significantly, the bar will be moved and set against a wall in the position of the original corridor.

This would result in the loss of the historic U-shaped bar and all the existing fabric of the bar and gantry.

But a report with the application from Selkirk-based Stuart Davidson Architecture, on behalf of the applicant Mr M Hay, says consideration has been given to the overall impact the proposed changes would have both on the character and  inherent internal fabric of the building “so as to ensure that historically important elements are preserved and enhanced”.

The report adds: “It is proposed to retain the traditional charm of the Towns Arms, utilising the many curios, pictures and mirrors within the redesigned bar area.

“The proposed finishes and fixtures are proposed to give a feel of quality along with traditional charm.

“There is to be a mixture of dressed timber fittings, brass bespoke pipework, taps and comfortable upholstery. This will be matched with the addition of the corner snug again finished in timber with branded frosted glazing (or re-purposed original doors) allowing light to flow into the main area but provide a private area with charm.”

The reports accepts the changes are a “bold step”, but adds: “The proposed development maintains the key listed features within the property as well as allow an important building within the town’s central fabric to be preserved and move forward as a viable concern which adds an unmeasurable cultural and social benefit.”

No.1 Market Place was built in 1876 as a meeting hall in the Scots Baronial style, but the ground floor was converted into the ‘Town’s Arms Inn’ public house in 1905.

In a report approving the planning application, Alla Hassan, SBC assistant planning officer, says: “Consultees generally support the proposal, but requested that opportunities whereby the existing original elements are reused in the proposal are explored further.

“However, given that the deconstruction of the bar and gantry must be completed prior to establishing what can be salvaged and reused, the council’s heritage and design officer has requested conditions are attached requesting the careful dismantlement, and detailed proposals involving the reuse of historic features are attached.

“On that basis, there is considered to be no harm to the significance of the listed building.”