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VIDEO: Inside the transformed former Cornhill Hospital development

Identical front doors, neat garden paths and a uniformed interior.

So far, so new build, with the trend for buying off plan on the increase.

The lure of an immaculate property with no need to renovate has proved popular with thousands of home owners in the north-east.

New-build developments even go hand in hand with purpose-built amenities, like schools and shops.

Shiny, sleek and convenient, but perhaps a little bland for some tastes.

As the phrase new build would suggest, a variety of properties are normally built from scratch and reserved before the first brick has even been laid.

Developers and period transformations don’t usually go together, but Barratt Homes has thrown out the rule book at one special development in Aberdeen.

Westburn Gardens on Berryden Road looks like any other modern development from the kerb side, with a mixture of apartments, houses and town houses.

With building work still ongoing, the heart of the site is hidden from view.

We were treated to a sneak peek and discovered a remarkable transformation where the old Royal Cornhill Hospital once stood.

Stunning granite buildings offer a range of accommodation within, having previously served as patient wards.

It is difficult to believe that these swish homes were once ravaged by fire and the passing of time, having stood derelict for a number of years.

Barratt was the only developer willing to renovate the site as opposed to flattening the buildings, some of which can be traced back to the 18th Century.

The developer has also reinstated the Obelisk monument, which commemorates John and Charles Forbes.

It also marked the building of what was then known as the Royal Cornhill Asylum.

The monument was taken down stone by stone for its relocation and design manager Gavin Sharp believes it stands as an important reminder of the site’s history.

“I think planning permission was granted around 2014 and we were going against the grain from the very start,” he said.

“But we knew that complete demolition wasn’t the way forward.

“This is a conservation area and some of the buildings are listed, alongside the beautiful trees on site.

“That doesn’t mean to say that we didn’t have a huge challenge on our hands, because we were working with granite.

“It’s one of the toughest materials and we had to do our best to retain it.

“We managed to save five buildings out of 12 in total.

“I remember the moment when I realised the full extent of the damage as the site had been derelict for some time.”

Gavin was also faced with the devastation caused by two separate fires in 2013 and 2015 – both started deliberately.

NHS Grampian was left with no choice but to hire an alarm company to provide round-the-clock supervision of the site.

Fears were expressed by the police at the time that the development could become “another Broadford Works” – a reference to the former Richards Textile factory.

“We had a great deal of support from the community council for our plans,” said Gavin.

“There was a lot at stake because the site was crying out to be taken care of.

“There was some very valid concerns that it was getting left to rot.

“The state of the buildings was just awful though, pigeons had made themselves at home.

“We kept period features such as high ceilings and original window shapes.

“We also tried to bring character to the properties that we built from scratch, so they didn’t look out of place.

“People bought off plan long before the site was completed. I think that’s because we were offering something different.

“Each property is bespoke and filled with character.”

Barratt has also stayed true to the original design with connecting sections.

This is reminiscent of the maze of connecting corridors which were used to wheel patients around the hospital.

“Mental health was very much a stigma when the hospital was first built,” said Gavin.

“Patients were treated behind closed doors and transported in secrecy.

“We didn’t want to lose the concept of connecting sections, because it was a way of remaining true to the original building.

“We also have a network of pathways which has created a community.

“Many of the people who moved in have links to the old Cornhill site in some way.

“There are also a lot of doctors and nurses who live here.”

It is difficult to sum up each individual pad, but large bedrooms and open-plan living areas are a running theme.

There has also been a focus for creating homes for those who may have a disability, with wider bathrooms and corridors for wheelchair users.

A tour of the duplex townhouse reveals stunning space with views across the city.

It certainly doesn’t feel like a new build and it is hard to believe that the grand master bedroom was once exposed to the elements.

The development has been a learning curve for Gavin and he hopes it stands as proof that new builds can offer something that bit different.

“The experience has been very exciting but it has also kept me awake at night,” he said.

“We don’t normally get to decide on design to this extent.

“It’s not just about renovating period buildings.

“It’s about doing it well and getting it right.”

Prices start from £234,995 and part exchange is available.

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