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Controversial town centre makeover goes out to tender

Fraserburgh Town House.
Fraserburgh Town House.

Construction firms have been invited to start bidding on controversial work to transform a north-east town centre.

Aberdeenshire Council’s contentious plans to renovate Fraserburgh’s Town House and former police station in Saltoun Square have been heavily criticised by local people and councillors since they were first unveiled last year.

The scheme – part of a £5million regeneration project for the whole of Fraserburgh’s town centre – proved so divisive that George Esslemont, the former secretary of the community council, even resigned from his position in protest.

The row erupted because of the new-look building’s designers, Moxon Architects, proposal to deck an extension to the rear of the town house in rusted steel to act as a buffer to nearby homes.

Mr Esslemont said: “We think it’s an ugly addition to the building.

“It takes away from the whole appearance of the building.”

But plans have continued to progress, and Aberdeenshire Council is now looking for builders who can complete the project for prices starting at £1.8million.

In its description of the work required, the council said: “The works involve the complete conservation, renovation and refurbishment of the existing office building; the complete conservation, renovation, refurbishment and conversion of the existing empty police station to form new offices; and the construction of a new build extension to the rear of both properties forming access and further office accommodation.”

When complete, it is hoped local start-up businesses will make use of the new offices.

Ben Addy, who established Moxon in 2004, has defended the scheme.

“The extension will efficiently and sensitively link both properties to provide a welcoming and elegant public face for the council,” he said.

“The robust design is conceived as a largely permeable structure set against the massive construction typology of the existing historic buildings.”

Banff and Buchan area manager Margaret-Jane Cardno has also defended the designs.

She said: “No representations were received to the planning application, though it is recognised the design is bold, as it was intended to be.

“The correct process has been followed to reach this point, where substantial funding is in place, plans are approved and work is due to start.”

Councillors Ian Tait and Hamish Partridge have both called for rethinks on the project.

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