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Fourth time’s the charm: Flat plans for former Aberdeen printworks might finally gain approval

The former Scottaspress printworks in Maberly Street, Aberdeen. Picture by Kath Flannery/DCT Media.
The former Scottaspress printworks in Maberly Street, Aberdeen. Picture by Kath Flannery/DCT Media.

Developers could have plans for flats in a former Aberdeen printworks approved at the fourth time of asking.

Aberdeen Capital Investments had their proposals for the former Scottaspress premises in Maberly Street thrown out in December 2020.

But new plans, brought forward last May, have now been recommended for conditional approval from councillors next week.

Aberdeen’s former Scottaspress printworks have storied planning past

The headline hasn’t changed – the developer still wants to build 17 flats over four storeys.

But the difference between then and now is a commitment to retain as much of the existing granite building as is “practically possible”.

The former Scottaspress printworks in Maberly Street, Aberdeen. Picture by Chris Sumner/DCT Media.
The former Scottaspress printworks in Maberly Street, Aberdeen. Picture by Chris Sumner/DCT Media.

Two prior applications, for 16 flats over four storeys and 10 flats built on three floors, were withdrawn in 2019.

Hillcrest Homes housing association is being lined up to take on the flats, which will all fall into the affordable housing bracket.

Planning officials said the development is “considered acceptable” against all council policies and there is no “material consideration which warrants refusal”.

‘This section of Maberly Street will be even busier,’ homeowner complains

That is despite 11 public objections to the plans over concerns about the height of the planned flats, lack of parking and need for further flats, and loss of privacy for neighbours.

“Although it is alleged that there is a lack of demand for housing, this is contradicted by the council housing service and affordable housing guidance,” interim chief planning officer David Dunne said.

The new plans have been drawn up with input from consultancy Aurora Planning, headed up by the council’s former planning chief, Maggie Bochel.

A modern extension is part of their design for the car-free flat block on the narrow Maberly Street.

An artist's impression of flats planned for the former Scottaspress printworks at 15 Maberly Street, Aberdeen. Picture supplied by Aurora Planning.
An artist’s impression of flats planned for the former Scottaspress printworks at 15 Maberly Street, Aberdeen. Picture supplied by Aurora Planning.

Peggy Rose, who has struggled to sell her flat immediately across the road from Scottaspress, was one of the objectors.

“It is still too high and is almost directly overlooking my front garden.

“The small site is directly opposite the entrance to the Broadford Works which is also to be developed into several hundred flats making this section of Maberly Street even busier.

“The new flats would have views over our garden which at present enjoys privacy.”

Aberdeen Capital Investments took the 2020 rejection to the Scottish Government, whose independent reporter backed the council’s decision based on concerns about how much of the granite from the demolished building would be reused.

Urging the local authority to back their plans this time, the developer highlighted the redevelopment of 34 Maberly Street, just across the road, for 12 flats in 2008.

Various plans – including an ‘urban village’ – have been backed by officials at the historic Broadford Works, despite the listing of some of the buildings in line to be bulldozed.

Update: A previous version of this article stated this development would no longer be 100% affordable housing. This was due to an error in the report prepared for councillors ahead of the planning committee meeting.

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