Selkirk change of use bid sparks debate

The property in Shawburn Road from which Penny Burgess runs a business.
The property in Shawburn Road from which Penny Burgess runs a business.
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An application to change the use of a Selkirk property from residential to business use has split the town’s community council.

Penny Burgess runs her internet retail company, Penelope Textiles Limited, from her property at 62 Shawburn Road.

As the property is in a residential area, a change of use application is required for her to continue to run the business from the house.

In her application to Scottish Borders Council, Ms Burgess says she uses the livingroom of the property as her office, the two bedrooms as storage areas for her textile goods, and the bathroom and kitchen as her laundry facility.

She said: “In the four years my business was based at Riverside Mills, I had one member of the public visit my business, and do not forsee that this ratio is likely to increase.

“On average, in terms of deliveries arriving, two small boxes arrive from France every couple of months and three to six times a year my auction purchases are delivered.

“I actually receive more post and deliveries at my home address for personal use than I do at my business address.”

The application was put to members of Selkirk Community Council on Monday evening by its planning representative Ian King.

He told members: “My instant reaction is to say no, I believe it is not appropriate to use a residential property for business near the middle of the town.

“It could be an established change of use, which could create an ongoing problem.

“We have to look at it clinically. It is a tricky one, but it is the thin edge of the wedge.”

Chairman Alastair Pattullo agreed, saying: “I do think it is counter-intuitive to get rid of housing stock when we are trying to get people to come and live in the town.”

However, vice-chairman Graham Easton was all for approval of the application.

He said: “I’m slightly on the opposite side, in that I wouldn’t want to deny this person a chance to run their business.

“Here is an individual who is determined to make their own way in business.”

And SBC councillor Caroline Penman added: “It is an online business, and the house is used mostly for storage.

“What’s more, the house next door has been used as a nursery for 10 years.”

A vote on the matter was considered, but Mr King said: “I volunteer to be ambivalent, and to put down both points of view, in that we don’t want to stop a business opportunity, but we also don’t want to see housing being lost to the town.”