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Empty Aberdeen city centre offices could be next in line for flats conversion

City Point, 11 Chapel Street, could be the latest Aberdeen offices to be converted for flats. Picture by Alastair Gossip/DCT Media.
City Point, 11 Chapel Street, could be the latest Aberdeen offices to be converted for flats. Picture by Alastair Gossip/DCT Media.

A city centre office block is the latest empty Aberdeen building being earmarked for flats – as its owner admits there is “no realistic prospect” of renting or selling it as is.

Knight Property Group wants to convert the vacant City Point offices in Chapel Street into affordable housing.

The firm has lodged plans for 26 one-bedroom apartments in the upper floors of the four-storey building, on the corner of Thistle Street.

On the ground floor, the developer wants to build a shop.

Flats plan for empty serviced Chapel Street offices

Aberdeen City Council planners are understood to be open to slightly smaller than average flats in the development, which would tie in with a drive to have more people living in the city centre.

However, there could be friction would be on the matter of parking – with roads bosses strongly encouraging 13 spaces – one for every two homes to be built – instead of the planned 10.

Despite suggestions the development – a stone’s throw from Union Street – could be no-car, council chiefs are urging the spaces left for occupants of the ground floor shop to meet that target.

There are three existing city car club vehicles within 500m of the offices, which consultants Aurora Planning suggest could save Knight making an expected £10,000 obligation towards any more.

Plans also include 26 bike spaces in a secure internal store.

The roof would be covered with around 100 250watt solar panels, while whether or not there could be adequate water supply is being looked at by Scottish Water.

City Point offices have been viewed once in the last year

The serviced offices on the upper floors have all been empty since December 2020 – and heavily pushed on the letting and selling market from last February.

Billboards on the side of City Point, 11 Chapel Street, have done little to spur interest in the empty office block. Picture by Alastair Gossip/DCT Media.
Billboards on the side of City Point, 11 Chapel Street, have done little to spur interest in the empty office block. Picture by Alastair Gossip/DCT Media.

Arron Finnie – a partner at the firm trying to sell the space, Ryden – revealed that there has since been “no strong interest”.

“We have only conducted one viewing and the party immediately said it wasn’t of interest,” he added.

Mr Finnie said there was “clearly an oversupply” of office property in Aberdeen, estimating 2.8 million square feet of vacant space on the market in the Granite City.

In a letter attached to the planning application, he said the age of buildings such as City Point, the lack of parking and the abundance of available property “point towards this building remaining vacant for some time in its current use”.

Market trend: Owners of empty Aberdeen offices consider flats conversions

Aurora Planning blamed new ways of working found during the coronavirus pandemic for playing their part.

The consultancy, headed by the council’s former planning chief Maggie Bochel, spelled out the presumption in Scottish planning policy which could well tie the council to approving the plans.

That’s unless planners foresee adverse impacts of the conversion which “significantly and demonstrably” outweigh the benefits of redevelopment, instead of knocking the 20th Century block down.

Knight’s plans are just the latest on the list of offices being eyed up for flat conversions, with proposals also mooted for the Monkey House in Union Street, Quattro House in the south of the city and Alba House in Stoneywood.

Others have simply knocked down their office buildings for redevelopment, including to make way for the north-east’s first Tim Hortons coffee shop on the site of the former Craigshaw House in Tullos.

You can view the plans by searching 220189/DPP here.

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