AMBITIOUS plans for an upmarket café and cocktail bar in Kelso’s historic Horsemarket area have been refused over “noise nuisance” concerns.

The continental-style courtyard café and bar was aimed at tourists and locals alike.

Planning bids for change of use and internal and external alterations had been submitted to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) by James Walker, the owner of Focal Point Furniture at 54-56 Horsemarket.

Mr Walker was aiming to diversify the business to provide “a truly sophisticated space” and create up to 10 new jobs.

The proposal entailed alterations to and change of use of rear parts of an existing shop and workshop to create café/bar spaces arranged around an enhanced external courtyard.

Alterations included installation of new windows and doors to the existing buildings and provision of external enclosures for sanitary and serving functions.

But the application has been refused by SBC on the grounds that the plans “are likely to raise unacceptable noise nuisance issues in a predominantly residential area and effective mitigation is not possible”.

Refusal comes despite the support of Kelso councillor Euan Robson, who wrote in support: “I am fully in favour of both of these applications as the development proposed therein will add a significant asset to the services and facilities in the centre of Kelso.

“I believe that it can be readily accommodated in the footprint of the available area and that there will be minimal if any disturbance to any neighbouring properties. I think that the applications should succeed.”

Kelso Community Council also raised no objections to the applications.

However, an objection was received from the owner of a flat at Horsemarket, who said: “The access to the property is directly below my flat and I would imagine that there will be an excessive increase in noise due to the nature of the change of use.”

The theme of the proposed new venue was to be street food with the café bar providing pastries and breads from local artisan bakers.

In his supporting statement, Mr Walker stated: “The courtyard will also have a vendor-style food container which will be available on summer evenings to provide a delicious street food style menu.

“I do intend to licence the café and obviously the cocktail bar but to make it clear that customers will be seated, the aim of the whole project is to provide a quality, relaxed and sophisticated environment to enjoy.

“Cocktails will be served in what will be a classic old school style cocktail bar inspired space with a luxurious interior and serving time honoured cocktails also offering the same menu as the café bar.

“The courtyard will have seating in the summer months and will be transformed into a relaxed, green and tranquil place to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

“By using locally sourced produce, bakery, butcher, grocer and brewery, creating seven-10 jobs and even glassware to be supplied by a local agent, this will undoubtedly help the local economy.

“Creating this new and attractive space within Kelso’s town centre can only help the town’s appeal to tourists and therefore local accommodation providers giving a quality venue for their guests to enjoy.”