A group hoping to take over a 500-year-old Mearns mill and reopen it as a visitor centre have won the backing of planners.
Benholm Mill, near Johnshaven, is an A-listed property that dates back to around the 12th century.
The building shut down commercially in 1982, and was reopened as a heritage attraction in 1993 and operated by a trust alongside Aberdeenshire Council – but closed in 2014.
Earlier this year, the Mill of Benholm Enterprise group (MOBE) applied for a community asset transfer to take it over.
However, council officers were concerned about the feasibility of the group’s business plan, prompting members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee to ask them to take another look.
Now the committee will consider the proposal on Tuesday, and council officers have this time agreed that “enough information has been received to allow a positive recommendation”.
Stephen Archer, infrastructure services director, said in a report: “Council officers are supportive of the asset transfer request and the aims to open and renovate an important local asset for everyone living in the area, regardless of age and circumstances.
“The business plan promotes asset regeneration, public health, social well-being and environmental well-being, and council officers acknowledge the hard work and commitment from MOBE to progress the project.”
However, he warned that officers still wanted assurances that grant funding for the project can be secured before the asset transfer goes through.
He said they were seeking funding commitments for 100% grant funding for phase one of the business plan.
Mairie Eddie, chairwoman of the MOBE, said she was “delighted” by the recommendation but admitted the group was concerned about the requirement for funding to be secured prior to asset transfer.
She said: “We’re very happy it’s now a positive recommendation, as we believe community ownership is the best way forward for the mill’s future.
“We are concerned about the prospect of having to get 100% of phase one funding in place prior to an asset transfer being finalised, because that will be very difficult to achieve just because of the way funding works.”