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Flats plans for Granite Mile landmark, the Monkey House, thrown out

Flats plans for the Monkey House on the corner of Union Street and Union Terrace have been refused permission by Aberdeen City Council. Picture by Chris Sumner/DCT Media.
Flats plans for the Monkey House on the corner of Union Street and Union Terrace have been refused permission by Aberdeen City Council. Picture by Chris Sumner/DCT Media.

Plans for flats in a historic Granite Mile landmark have been refused by the council – despite the owner revealing hopes the project would help “reinvigorate” Aberdeen city centre.

Epic Group brought forward £1 million proposals to convert offices in the three upper floors of the Monkey House into 15 high-end apartments.

The A-listed building on the corner of Union Terrace and Union Street, with top levels previously marketed as premium office space.

A ground floor restaurant would have been unaffected by the plans.

Architects have created a rendering for what the Monkey House Aberdeen flats' living rooms could look like.
Tinto Architecture had drawn up what the high-end flats in the Monkey House could look like.

Planners did not back proposals for a mezzanine, which would have made use of the double-height ceiling on the first floor.

Their refusal of the plans, under delegated powers, came over fears the new intermediate floor would block windows on the first storey.

Interim chief planning officer, David Dunne, said: “It is apparent to the planning service that the new floor level would intersect the windows, which are prominently visible on the Union Street elevation.

“The intersection of the windows with a new floor level would cause harm to the building’s special character.”

Monkey House office-to-flat conversion plans part of growing Aberdeen trend

Epic’s plans came amid a flurry of similar activity in the city as property experts bemoan a massive oversupply of vacant office space.

A artist's impression of a bathroom within the proposed Monkey House flats.
A artist’s impression of a bathroom within the proposed Monkey House flats. Supplied by Tinto Architecture.

Agents Ryden estimate a 2.8 million sq ft surplus on the Aberdeen market, currently sitting empty.

Getting people back living in the city centre is also a huge driver for the local authority, with councillors believing the future of Union Street lies in residential use.

Monkey House owner Mike Wilson claimed the development could ‘only be good for the city’

Epic Group boss Mike Wilson declined to comment on the planning application and listed building consent snub.

He previously told The P&J: “I believe there has been a realisation that anything above ground floor level in Union Street is going to be residential.

“With office space so plentiful in the city centre, I see this as a sensible fit for the property and hopefully this assists with regeneration of the area.

“Given the prominence of the Monkey House in Aberdeen, this development can only be good for the city and some badly needed good news for Union Street.”

Last March, when the plans were brought forward, he admitted it was “clear” the offices would not be snapped up on the market.

Built in 1885 as the headquarters for Northern Assurance, the eye-catching building was designed by prolific northern architect Alexander Marshall Mackenzie.

The Elgin-born Victorian also planned the city’s art gallery, the frontage and spires of Marischal College, Elphinstone Hall at King’s College and the war memorial and Cowdray Hall.

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