AMBITIOUS plans for an upmarket courtyard café and cocktail bar in Kelso’s historic Horsemarket have been given the green light.

A planning bid for the change of use and internal and external alterations at Focal Point Furniture at 54-56 Horsemarket was originally refused by Scottish Borders Council (SBC).

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

The application was 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”.

But when members of SBC’s Local Review Body met on Monday (June 17) they overturned refusal.

Councillor Sandy Scott said: “This is a town centre site and it’s not very far from the Square in Kelso. I know that if I was living in the houses there-abouts I would be objecting but I think that if you live in a town centre you have to put up with a certain amount of noise, that’s what town centres are about. They’re about shops, about bars.

“I mean, if you build a house in a flood plain, expect to be flooded, that’s the way it goes and if you live in the countryside, expect to be woken by a cockerel in the morning, so if you live in a town centre house you have to accept there is going to be a bit of noise, so I have no objection to this.”

Mr Walker aims to diversify the business to provide “a truly sophisticated space” and create up to ten new jobs.

In an appeal statement he said: “I’m appealing this decision due to my belief that it will bring a new and exciting venue to Kelso town centre and that the open air aspect of the development will not create undue noise.

“Another reason and one that has kept my confidence in the success of the project is the overwhelming support I’ve received from members of the public of all ages, local businesses and official bodies that have gone out of their way to email, write and pop into my shop, some very animated in their support.

“Kelso fortunately still has a vibrant and independent high street, and as a town continues to be a desirable place to live for all ages and an appealing place for tourists to visit, but like all high streets in these times of change we must look forward and adapt to new ideas.

“Focal Point Furniture has been trading on Horsemarket since 2010. In that time it has expanded to incorporate a very successful picture framing business complimenting its interesting and sometimes flamboyant furniture. I am lucky as the owner of Focal Point to witness the comments of visitors to this town, not only regarding my shop but the town as a whole and it is this first-hand understanding of our customer base that gives me the confidence in this project.

“Kelso, as [with] many of the Scottish Borders' towns, doesn’t have the highest footfall so it is essential to keep on top of your business, ensuring that it remains interesting and desirable to visit. This project would give an extra appeal to visit Focal Point helping to secure its future on the high street.”

Kelso Community Council has also raised no objections to the application.