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From Sky dishes to insulation… What you can and can’t do if you live in one of Aberdeen’s newly listed high-rises

The new planning guide will assist residents of the A-listed Marischal Court and Virginia Court. Picture by Kami Thomson/DCT Media.
The new planning guide will assist residents of the A-listed Marischal Court and Virginia Court. Picture by Kami Thomson/DCT Media.

New rules have been agreed covering everything from satellite dishes to bike sheds for the residents of Aberdeen’s newly listed high-rise tenements.

Many met the news that brutalist blocks Gilcomstoun Land, Virginia Court, Marischal Court, Porthill Court and Seamount Court were to become A-listed with some incredulity.

Historic Environment Scotland‘s decision put the buildings on the same level of architectural merit as Marischal College.

The heritage buffs say they are of “outstanding importance” in telling the story of how Scotland emerged from the Second World War.

Seamount Court is a building of national significance.

Rating came despite fears from Aberdeen high-rise residents

But those living in the blocks were left worrying about how it could impact on their lives – with strict rules on any changes to such protected buildings.

A new planning guide has now been agreed by councillors – with a green, amber and red system.

Porthill Court is one of five Aberdeen high rises to retain its A-listing. Picture by Chris Sumner/DCT Media.
Porthill Court is one of five Aberdeen high rises to retain its A-listing. Picture by Chris Sumner/DCT Media

Green: What you can do

Any works classed as green are seen as acceptable and would not need planning permission.

Flat owners and tenants would be free to install replacement like-for-like windows and doors – and can remove or alter non-structural walls within a flat.

Meanwhile Aberdeen City Council would be able to carry out routine maintenance and repairs to the outside of the buildings, or fix existing utilities such as boilers, plumbing and electrical systems.

Upgrade work and redecoration of communal areas would also be accepted.

Amber: You better ask first

Under the amber rating, residents would need to seek advice from the council to find out if any proposed work would require consent or planning permission.

Works include the installation of new lighting, CCTV cameras, signage or upgrading utilities across multiple flats.

Permission would also be needed for installing new ramps and handrails, insulation or building new facilities such as stores or bike sheds.


Do you think the rules are fair? Let us know in our new comments section at the foot of the article


Red: Permission must be granted

Work listed as red would not be allowed without the relevant permissions and would be expected to carried out by Aberdeen City Council as the majority building owner.

This type of work includes balcony alterations, installation of satellite dishes, external cladding or changes to the roof.

Adding any public safety improvements to the blocks, such as fire stair towers, would also need listed building consent and planning permission.

Other “major” works would also need to be approved such as internal alterations that would have an effect on the building’s structure and any proposed demolition work.

Seamount Court, viewed here from the West North Street carpark. Both are part of the controversial A-listing, along with four other Aberdeen high rises. Picture by Kath Flannery/DCT Media.
Seamount Court, viewed here from the West North Street car park.

The new guide was approved by the local authority’s planning committee on Thursday.

Council officers said the “easy-to-use” format would ensure a “consistent approach” to decision making across the high-rises.

Five Aberdeen high rises to remain A-listed as council appeal fails

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