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End of an era for Aberdeen serviced apartments, vision for Newmachar mansion and locals back Stonehaven Seafood Bothy’s second venue

The Skene House apartments on Whitehall Place
Plans to change the Skene House apartments into flats could mean more food and drink options in Rosemount. Supplied by Chris Donnan, design team

Welcome to our weekly round-up of the latest planning applications lodged across the north-east.

This week, we look at how a pair of traditional Aberdeenshire village halls are making plans to move into the 21st century.

And changes are also on the way for the Skene House apartments in Aberdeen, with the blocks being turned into mainstream flats – and their receptions becoming food and drink venues.

But we begin with a proposal to turn unwanted Aberdeen offices into new housing.

Former offices to become ‘luxury’ three-bedroom flats

Vacancy signs are a common sight around Aberdeen’s west end.

The offices on Rubislaw Place could be in for a new lease of life.

But developers are increasingly hopeful that turning abandoned business premises into homes will be the best way to get them occupied.

Now, Glasgow-based Jonathan Lau has lodged a proposal to convert 2 Rubislaw Place from offices into a pair of flats.

The council is eager to boost the city centre by getting more people to live there.

The B-listed building was designed by Archibald Simpson in 1835 as housing, and has been “vacant for some time”.

Papers lodged by Tinto architects say transforming the offices would chime with the council’s own ambitions for city centre living.

Documents encourage officers to return the building to the use “intended by the original architects in the 19th century”.

Have a look around the offices in this video:

Tinto believes the “luxury” flats proposed would make for a “considered exemplar of 21st Century housing right in the heart of Aberdeen”.

Kids club sets sights on new home

The Kidsize after-school club wants to relocate from Aberdeen’s Kingswells Community Centre to a new home of its own across the road.

This image from Google Maps shows the empty Lea Rigg property.

The Lea Rigg house on Kingswood Drive, next to the pharmacy, is empty at the moment.

Group leaders, who already use the playpark behind the site, say it would cater to a maximum of 32 youngsters – normally attending from 7.30am to 9am and 3.15pm to 6pm.

Posted by Kidsize on Wednesday, 15 June 2022

And the move could help Kidsize to grow.

Papers sent to the council state: “The site will also allow us to further expand to allow for eight more children during our after-school sessions.

“Having our own venue would also allow for opportunities to run toddlers classes, a playgroup and other community groups during the hours of 9.30-2.30pm term time.”

Foveran Village Hall upgrades

Foveran Village Hall. Image from Google Maps.

The team behind Foveran Village Hall have put forward plans to help save on their energy bills – and reduce their carbon footprint.

They want to install three air source heat pumps, which transfer heat from the outside air to water – which then warms a property via radiators or underfloor heating.

Events like the Foveran Primary School Nativity in 2019 have been held at the Foveran Village hall. Submitted image.

U-turn on Glass Community Hall demolition plans

Another Aberdeenshire hall has been given a reprieve, having been earmarked for demolition.

The future of Glass Community Hall once looked as bleak as the stormy skies seen here behind the building.

Glass Community Association previously secured permission to knock down Glass Community Hall, between Huntly and Dufftown, to create a modern replacement.

But members have decided to instead invest in the 100-year-old building’s future.

The village hub won’t be knocked down after all.

The CTA Architects firm says the group now has a view “to improving and making the most of the existing facilities”.

CTA adds: “The now 100-year-old building is tired, dated and in need of some upgrading work to make it fit for the purposes of the busy and vibrant community.”

The package of improvements to bring it up to scratch include replacement toilets and storage room, ramp access, a larger meeting room and a new kitchen.

The lean-to will be demolished to make way for a better replacement.

Some windows will also be filled in to reduce heat loss and running costs.

Support outweighs Seafood Bothy objections

A few weeks ago, we revealed that Stonehaven’s Seafood Bothy is hoping to take over an old fishing hut by the port.

Operating in addition to the food van on the pier, it would mean the company can continue serving snacks regardless of the weather. 

Maria Lewis, owner of Seafood Bothy, offers weekly seafood specials out of a renovated horse trailer at Old Pier.

And sharing our article on social media, owner Maria Lewis asked that supporters back the project – while adding she “fully appreciated” there would be some objections too.

The tally may pleasantly surprise the businesswoman – with more than 50 positive remarks compared to just 10 against.

The second venue would occupy the rusty shack next to the shelter seen here in this image from Google Maps.

‘It will bring more people to Stonehaven’

Carol Harding, from Aberdeen, said: “The Seafood Bothy, as it stands, makes me come to Stonehaven on a regular basis.

“I follow them online and discovered the Bothy by recommendation. I’d love them to have a more permanent base.”

Delicacies such as the lobster quiche attract fans from far and wide!

Stonehaven’s Rhoda Howie said: “Great to see an unsightly shed being transformed into something useful, which will bring more people into Stonehaven.

“Anything that encourages visitors after two years of businesses struggling has to be a good addition to the town.”

Maria Lewis cooking Lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. Picture by Chris Sumner

Ashley Mullenger, from Norfolk, added: “The fishing industry needs these kinds of retailers around the country, they are ambassadors for the region.”

Laurencekirk’s Mary Mair said the scheme would “improve the tumbling old shed that looks appalling in its present state”.

“Appalling”: This image from Google Maps shows the shed in line for renovation.

And Banchory’s Jo McIntosh wrote: “I come regularly across to Stonehaven solely for the Seafood Bothy.

“To have this on a more permanent basis can only be great for the town and customers.”

Eager customers lining up for grub at The Seafood Bothy.

One of just a handful of complaints, Audrey Malcolm raised fears about the safety of customers “queuing on a narrow road”.

Although no such competing plan exists, the Stonehaven resident said: “These sheds should be revamped and used by the growing number of swimmers we have, for shelter while changing.”

There’s a delicious menu on offer.

Another opponent said: “All small watersport traffic is focused in this area, which is a turning area for all harbour traffic.

“Customers using this shed would access by walking on the main road. And upon leaving the hut will be stepping straight onto the road.”

There would be a lobster tank in the second premises, to help teach youngsters about local seafood. Supplied by Inspire Design and Development

People still have until August 11 to make their thoughts known.

What’s your opinion on the Seafood Bothy plans? Let us know in our comments section below

Plans to do up derelict outbuilding spark spat

Paul Dunbar has lodged plans to turn the dilapidated former wash-house and storage hut near his Corgi Cottage home, outside Turriff, into secondary accommodation.

The wash-house has seen better days. Supplied by EB architects.

Documents sent to Aberdeenshire Council explain that the building was once part of the Carnousie estate at Forglen.

But over the years it has fallen into disrepair, with the roof badly damaged.

The owner wants to make the most of the crumbling building on his property. Supplied by EB architects

Mr Dunbar believes this is a waste of the Deveronside property which benefits from “massive solar gain in the afternoon and evening”.

If his transformation plans are approved, its main purpose will be as a “garden living space”, with sensory space for his son.

This image supplied by EB architects shows how it could be reimagined.

But neighbour at the Forglen spot, Alastair Watson, is concerned about any digging so close to their oil tank, and a lack of communication considering they share a boundary wall with the building.

Another resident, Ok Nyon Baker, wants confirmation it will only be used as ancillary accommodation.

The council will decide if the revamp can take place. Supplied by EB architects

The rise and fall of Skene House apartments

In 1979, Charles Skene launched Skene House apartments, bringing the concept of serviced accommodation to Scotland.

Businessman Charles Skene at the Skene House apartments on Rosemount Viaduct. Picture by Kenny Elrick

His goal was to provide a “better alternative” to hotels for the many families who were relocating to Aberdeen during the oil boom.

For the past few decades the firm has been catering to stays of various lengths, usually from one month to one year.

Now the serviced apartments are being forced to change with the times amid declining demand.

A planning application has been lodged for the ground floor units of the Whitehall Skene House apartments.

Skene House Apartments has made the decision to lease its serviced spaces as mainstream flats.

That means they can be rented for an unlimited spell or sold individually.

An image of the Skene House flats stretching along Whitehall Place.

And as part of the changes, new plans have been lodged to change the reception and breakfast area on the ground floor of the Whitehall apartments into two food and drink venues.

Papers sent to Aberdeen City Council state the 49 flats are now let on long-term leases “so the need for reception etc is no longer required”.

Charles Skene owner of Skene House. Picture by Kami Thomson

Neil Rothnie Architecture says the exact type of venue moving in is not yet known, but advises that anything “involving the cooking of food” will “not be encouraged”.

The new businesses, whatever they may be, would be opposite the popular Cult of Coffee shop.

Plans under way at Skene House apartments across Aberdeen

Elsewhere in Aberdeen, Skene House is separately seeking permission to turn its 35 apartments on Holburn Street and Union Grove into mainstream flats.

The Skene House apartments on Holburn Street.

Similar plans are in the works for the 38 apartments on Rosemount Viaduct.

And a proposal to change the street-level reception there into a food and drink venue has already been approved.

The Skene House apartments at Rosemount Viaduct.

A report sent to the council by Skene Investments argues that the changes will help to bring more young people into Aberdeen – boosting the city centre economy.

A leading Granite City businessman for decades, in a 2017 interview Charles Skene told us about the importance of changing with the times.

Charles Skene seen outside Skene House on Holburn street with his 2000 Entrepreneurial Supporter of the Year award. Picture by Raymond Besant

Newmachar mansion unveiled

Finally, a large Aberdeenshire property put on the market for £385,000 last year could soon be demolished to make way for a stunning replacement.

This picture sent to the council shows the current house. Supplied by Baxter Design Company

Newlands Croft, at Newmachar, is just off the A947 Oldmeldrum Road – with majestic countryside views from its position outside the village.

These images supplied by Baxter Design Company show how a bigger and better Newlands Croft would rise from the rubble.

Now, a Mr J White has formed plans to create a dream five-bedroom property on the site.

The site comes with plenty space outdoors. Supplied by Baxter Design Company

On his behalf, Baxter Design Company  has submitted images to the council detailing the proposed replacement.

The ground floor would have its own bar, with a playroom, lounge and family area.

Another view of the proposed mansion. Supplied by Baxter Design Company

Pencilled in is also a large dining room, with a table seating 14 people and its own piano in the corner.

Upstairs, the owners would have four of the five bedrooms, a snug and a gym area.

The ground floor offers visitors a warm welcome, with a bar near the front door.
The first floor contains some spacious bedrooms, along with a gym area to work out in and snug for some relaxation.
Would you like to live in a house like this? Supplied by Baxter Design Company

You can see the plans for yourself using these links:

2 Rubislaw Place

Kidsize expansion plans

Foveran Village Hall plans

Glass Community Hall

Seafood Bothy latest

Corgi Cottage outbuilding

Skene House Apartments on Esslemont Avenue

Newlands Croft