Movement on former Grapes site at last

The derelict former Grapes Hotel in Newton Stewart looks set to be given a new lease of life after a decade of abandonment.

The Victoria Street property, one of the most prominent on the town’s main road, was the subject of a formal planning application submitted to Dumfries and Galloway Council this week.

Allied Irish Bank has now officially put forward plans to transform the main building into a retail unit, fronting onto the street, with a flat above as well as six two-bedroom houses behind. The existing white building with ageing wooden roof panels will be demolished to make way for a lower, more modern building in line with local planning guidelines.

The application makes note of concerns from the council’s roads department over vehicular access to the site which it had orginally hoped could be through an existing vennel on Victoria Street.

But officials rejected this and instead access will be taken from the rear of the building via Victoria Lane. Pedestrian access will be available from the vennel and will allow links from the main street to the local school, says the application.

However, the council’s contamination officer has highlighted that the development would sit on land used historically as a tannery and to store several petrol tanks and would require a full investigation.

Mid Galloway Councillor Graham Nicol said: “I am delighted to see an application to do something with the former hotel. This has been an eyesore for a long time and a bone of contention to the people of Newton Stewart. Hopefully the application will be successful and this development will actually take place in the relatively near future.”