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Religious group’s £300,000 revamp of old Middlefield Parish Church, Balmoral security strengthened to protect Queen and Mounthooly pub to become take-away

Plans have been formed to breathe new life into Middlefield Parish Church.
Plans have been formed to breathe new life into Middlefield Parish Church.

Welcome to our weekly round-up of the latest planning applications lodged with Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils.

Every Monday morning we delve into documents to uncover the changes being lined up for our communities.

This week, with her historic Platinum Jubilee fast approaching, we feature freshly approved plans to tighten security at the Queen’s Balmoral home.

Meanwhile, there are major moves afoot to bring Middlefield Parish Church back into religious use three years after it closed.

But first, we’re serving up some good news for Aberdeen tennis fans…

New Padel courts approved at Westburn Park

The new courts will be built over some of the old grass surfaces, which have grown a bit shabby since falling out of use.

Plans lodged by Sport Aberdeen for new Padel tennis courts have now been sealed.

Padel is a form of tennis that is picking up more and more fans, requiring less physical strength and technical prowess than your typical game.

It is usually played in doubles, and on courts 25% smaller than normal.

A concept image of how the courts will look next to the existing surfaces in the park.
And how they will look inside…

Described as a cross between tennis and squash, games are played surrounded by heavy-duty glass that allows players to hit the ball after it bounces back off the wall.

The two covered courts will be formed within the footprint of the current grass court near the Cornhill Road entrance to the park, which have become overgrown and unsightly in recent years.

Approving the scheme, Aberdeen City Council said it would be good to see the space put to better use.

Sports stars including Lionel Messi, David Beckham and Rafa Nadal have all embraced the pastime.

Perhaps the upcoming Wimbledon tournament could provide some inspiration for Aberdonians to give the courts a go once they are up and running.

Not even Rafa Nadal would manage a decent performance on this court these days. Westburn House is in the background.

Animal boarding house must be only for cats…

James Shulver, who runs the family firm Shulver Fencing, is after permission to operate a cattery from his home near Methlick.

He wants to create a block of 10 pens to board the animals in at his Quilquox home.


Plans submitted to Aberdeenshire Council show the pens the cats will be housed in.

Neighbours Neil and Claire Blackadder have written to Aberdeenshire Council seeking confirmation “the animal species will be limited to cats only”.

Perhaps wary of any barking in the night, they add: “This would be our preference.”

New caravan park planned for Insch

Owner Ron Young wants to replace a yard and buildings at Dunnydeer Home Farm South, just outside Insch, into a 21-space caravan site.

The scheme, in the shadow of the historic Dunnydeer Fort, could bring more visitors to the area.

Autumn sunset over Dunnydeer.

But Insch resident Jack Clark has questioned how anyone staying at the site will be able to enter the village – with the Western Road route only partly paved and largely unlit.

He adds: “Will there be a requirement to extend the present footpath and street lighting?”

This aerial image from Google Maps shows the road into Insch from the proposed site at the far left, just off the road.

New Turkish diner coming to Belmont Street

Plans to open a new Turkish restaurant in a long-vacant unit at The Academy mall in Aberdeen have been sealed by the council.

Belmont Street might look a far cry from Istanbul on this rainy Sunday afternoon, but a taste of Turkey will soon be coming to the Academy.
The prominent unit has been empty for some time.

The restaurant, which will have 50 spaces, will occupy a space that has been empty for five years.

Have a look around the unit with this video:

Aberdeen City Council told applicant Ozan Yildz the fact the premises has been empty so long “demonstrates there is no demand for its continued retail use”.

The application cleared hurdles relating to the smell or noise from the venue bothering residents.

This image from an “odour impact assessment” shows the position of the new restaurant in red, and the nearest properties marked in yellow. They are unlikely to catch any unwanted whiffs.

Aberdeen Inspired changes planters plan after angry objections

Last month, city centre improvement group Aberdeen Inspired unveiled proposals to inject some life into sunless Justice Mill Lane with planters and a new bench. 

While the “avenue of trees” proved uncontroversial, the idea of a new seating area opposite Nox nightclub left neighbours apoplectic.

This new round bench envisioned for the street.

Bon Accord Terrace resident Karen McCormack said residents have enough problems as it is with people lingering around Nox after the late-night venue closes.

She said: “Instead, intoxicated people stay and make lots of noise in the wee hours of the morning.

“This disrupts our sleep, particularly my younger son, as couples seem to choose just under his bedroom window to have savage rows.”

“Providing seating is just providing further encouragement for these intoxicated revellers to stay when we would very much rather that they would go home.”

The street furniture currently in place at the spot.

Mrs McCormack’s sentiments were echoed by others.

Rodrigo Rendon even claimed that people already “urinate on the ground floor kitchen window that is less than 10 metres from the proposed bench”.

How the “avenue of trees” could look if approved by the council.

Aberdeen Inspired has now relaunched its planters plan for Justice Mill Lane – this time, leaving out the bench.

Former Aberdeen pub to become Chinese take-away

It’s been a while since anyone was able to enjoy a drink at the closed down Mounthooly Sports Bar

Decades of hostelry history look poised to come to an end on Aberdeen’s Hutcheon Street.

For many years, there has been a pub just off the junction with George Street – latterly known as Mounthooly Sports Bar and before that the Thistle Bar and the Rose Bowl.

The Thistle Bar pictured here in 2012.

When owner Ronnie Gammack sold the Thistle due to ill health in 2013, his wife described it as “full of characters”.

Since then, it was taken over by Kevin Watson and underwent something of a face-lift.

A popular stop-off on the way to Pittodrie, in 2017 fans stuck murals outside the Mounthooly Sports Bar.

But plans submitted to Aberdeen City Council indicate it could soon become a Chinese take-away known as Hong Kong Kitchen.

A glimpse inside reveals that work is already under way on reshaping the interior, with all of the old bar fittings removed.

How the former pub looks today.
And here is the design image detailing its proposed makeover as Hong Kong Kitchen

Old garage could become new base for woodworker

Nearby, down a lane just off George Street, an old garage could soon become a craftsman’s new workshop.

The small warehouse on Millbank Lane was listed for sale last year and now Wouter Piessens, who lives next door, wants to adapt it as a base for making wooden furniture.

The small former warehouse is being kitted out with heating and insulation.

Share your views on the plans featured here in our comments section at the foot of this article

Developer doubles down on ‘dangerous’ take-away plans

A few weeks ago, Planning Ahead detailed proposals for a take-away at Holburn Street in Aberdeen deemed as “the most dangerous spot” in the city for such a venture.

The Garthdee roundabout proposal was branded an “accident waiting to happen”, and the council’s roads department said the location “does not appear to be a well suited for a food take-away”.

The former M&M Services building off the Garthdee roundabout. Image from Google Maps.

On behalf of applicant Mayameen Ltd, EB Architects has now fired back.

They say the scheme would “inject new life” into the former tram shed and public toilet building that has “lain unused for several years”.

The firm insists that customers could arrive and depart safely by using the unrestricted parking on Riverside Drive and further up Holburn Street.

Balmoral CCTV boost approved

On Friday, it emerged that The Queen had arrived at Balmoral for a brief stay ahead of her busy period ahead marking the Platinum Jubilee.

Craigowan Lodge, where The Queen is known to spend time when staying at Balmoral.

She arrived shortly after Aberdeenshire Council rubber-stamped plans to make sure her stays there are safer.

Balmoral Estate has been given permission to create new gates at the east entrance, near Royal Lochnagar Distillery.

The Queen inspects the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland at the gates at Balmoral when she arrives for her summer break.

The vehicular gate will be operated electronically, with a control box and intercom nearby to make sure only authorised people can pass.

A set of CCTV cameras will be fixed to the side of the Category-B listed former Post Office and shop building overlooking the gate.

Balmoral Estate submitted this design image of the new gate to Aberdeenshire Council.

Submitting plans to the council in March, Balmoral Estate said the work was needed for “legitimate security reasons”.

Church will be born again under new owners

The large church hall was built in 1971.

June 30, 2019, was a poignant day as parishioners worshipped for the final time in Middlefield Parish Church.

After decades in the community, the kirk was sold by the Church of Scotland.

But the Lovebridge Community Church, set up in 2011, is now on a mission to restore the former hall – which is now used as a roofer’s yard – for religious use.

Middlefield Parish Church has been taken over by a local roofing firm, who would move out under these plans.

The group, which currently operates out of pubic space at Manor Park Primary School, wants to make the site on Manor Avenue their very own home.

And they have launched Project Nehemiah to raise £300,000 for the project.

Aberdeen City Council has now approved the group’s plans to transform the huge hall.

The works planned for the building include creating a disabled access ramp, a new entrance canopy, replacing windows and removing the shutter doors installed when the hall became a builder’s yard.

The old Middlefield Parish Church is just yards away from the recently improved Haudagain roundabout.

Lovebridge Community Church describes its mission as “influencing societal change by propagating the gospel on the foundation of the love of God”.

In a video on their website, a member discusses the “impoverished mindset” in Northfield and the organisation’s aims to “pull people out of that”.

They want to use the hall as “a hub for the church”, hosting its food bank, kids club and community initiatives.

Hope could be on the horizon for Middlefield Parish Church.

Feel like supporting any of the plans, using your right to object… Or do you just fancy a look? Follow these links:

Padel tennis courts

Quilquox cattery 

Insch caravan park 

Turkish restaurant at The Academy

Original Justice Mill Lane plans… And the revised version 

Mounthooly Sports Bar 

Wooden furniture workshop

‘Dangerous’ take-away

Balmoral CCTV cameras and intercom system

Middlefield Parish Church revamp