GOVERNMENT ministers are set to probe plans for converting a former Peebles hotel into housing.

An application to transform the historic Venlaw Castle into apartments won favour with Scottish Borders Council earlier this year.

But an objection from Historic Environment Scotland regarding the proposed changes to the 18th century building has triggered the move at Holyrood.

Over the coming months a reporter, who has yet to be appointed, will collate evidence and carry out a site visit.

The 13-bedroom hotel closed in 2017 after owners Roy and Lorna Curry had failed to make the business profitable.

Plans were submitted by Rikeja Ltd with the local authority the following year for an extension to be added and 11 apartments to be created.

A spokesman said: "The proposal to alter, extend and convert the hotel to form 11 apartments represents an appropriate use for the building restoring it to its original residential use and by doing so increasing the choice and range of accommodation available in the area.

"The alterations required to facilitate that change of use can be undertaken in a manner which not only preserves but also enhances the character and appearance of the building as one of special architectural character and appearance.

"The impacts associated with the proposed use of the property for residential purposes will also be significantly less that those associated with its established use."

Venlaw Castle was built on the site of Smithfield Castle in 1782 by the Sheriff Deputy of Peeblesshire, Alexander Stevenson.

The property was sold a decade later to writer Ludovic Grant from Edinburgh.

During the 19th and early 20th century Venlaw was owned by the Erskine family, who added an additional floor and also a baronial wing to the property.

The castle was used as a Red Cross Hospital during World War I.

And eventually, just after the Second World War, it was converted into an upmarket hotel.

But a downturn in trade and several takeovers later the doors closed in December, 2017.

The plans for apartments, which were submitted the following year, won support from Scottish Borders Council at their planning meeting in March.

Planning officer Ranald Dods said: "The proposal as submitted is, on balance, not considered to be sufficiently detrimental to the character of the listed building to warrant a recommendation of refusal.

"The proposals contained in the planning application are considered acceptable."

But continued concerns from Historic Environmental Scotland over the proposed changes to the listed building has led to the government's Planning and Environmental Appeals Division calling the application in.

A decision is likely to be made during the autumn.