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Denburn House: Former Aberdeen offices to be turned into 72 flats despite claims homes will be ‘barely habitable’

Denburn House will be converted into flats. Supplied by Roddie Reid, design team
Denburn House will be converted into flats. Supplied by Roddie Reid, design team

Historic Aberdeen offices will be turned into housing – despite developers being accused of “trying to squeeze as many flats as possible” into the building.

Mandale Homes’ plans for Denburn House have now been approved by the council.

The firm will transform the Grade B-Listed building overlooking Union Terrace Gardens into 72 flats.

The development will comprise 14 studio apartments, 45 one-bed, nine two-bed and four three-bed flats.

But the number of properties proposed for the venue has been a major bone of contention among Aberdeen architects objecting to the scheme.

Denburn House on Union Terrace.

Would Denburn House flats be ‘barely habitable’?

Jack Burnett-Stuart, vice-chairman of Bon Accord Heritage but commenting in his own right, said the design of the apartments was “substandard”.

He added: “Behind the grand facades on Union Terrace, the developer is seeking to squeeze in as many tiny flats as possible, Many of which are barely habitable, let alone offering any quality of life for the inhabitant.

The contrast could not be more stark, and runs counter to any attempt to regenerate the city centre.”

“With imagination and ambition, the adaptive reuse of these buildings has great potential.”

Developers have been accused of sacrificing quality of life in pushing for 72 flats.

‘Window-less bedrooms’ among concerns listed

Meanwhile the Aberdeen Civic Society said it welcomed the re-use of the vacant office building.

But members fear the flats would not do much to attract families to live in the city centre.

The group criticised “the very large number of low-ceilinged small flats, some designed with window-less bedrooms, arranged along long corridors”.

Their letter of objection states: “A better mixture of flat types and greater amenity is required for this valuable site if the goal of reviving Aberdeen’s city centre is to be met.”

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS) also raised concerns.

The group said: “Parts might be used as a whole range of domestic uses from hostel to fancy hotel, in sizes from single to family use.”

Objections swept aside as council rubber-stamps Denburn House flats

Despite these objections, council planners have given the scheme their blessing.

They argued that the changes would “preserve the special character of the listed building” with no adverse impact on Union Terrace.

Denburn House overlooks Union Terrace Gardens. Picture by Kenny Elrick

Flats are latest stage in Denburn House history

Denburn House is made up of three separate six-storey buildings built between 1896 and 1902 that were eventually merged.

In the 1980s the three original buildings were demolished but the main granite frontage was retained.

A new layout was later constructed to form open plan office space.

Denburn House looks on to Union Terrace Gardens, which is weeks away from reopening following a major upgrade.

The project is the latest in the Granite City for the developers.

Mandale Homes were behind the renovation of Custom House on Guild Street and bosses recently submitted plans to convert the former Ruby House office block on Silver Street into 65 flats.

You can see the plans here.

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