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Row over Travellers site at Peterculter, £40k ambitions for lighthouse sculpture at Portsoy Harbour and dozens of Union Street flats approved

Plans for a Peterculter Travellers site have sparked a war of words. Supplied by Roddie Reid, design team
Plans for a Peterculter Travellers site have sparked a war of words. Supplied by Roddie Reid, design team

Welcome to Planning Ahead – our weekly round-up of the latest proposals lodged across the north-east.

This week we take a look at eye-catching public art aimed at brightening up some of our communities.

A group in Portsoy are hoping to raise £40,000 to provide a permanent home for a beloved lighthouse sculpture at the seafront.

In Aberdeen, more carvings could soon be installed to help ensure a warm welcome to Tillydrone.

And plans have been lodged for a twinkling new addition to the city centre…

‘Ceiling of light’ to cast a glow over Shiprow

This summer, dozens of colourful umbrellas dangling over Aberdeen’s Shiprow proved popular with locals – offering the perfect backdrop for some eye-catching selfies.

The display, to raise awareness of neurodiversity, was recently removed.

Aberdeen Inspired chief executive Adrian Watson has gathered more than 130 signatures from business bosses backing Union Street pedestrianisation. Picture by Kath Flannery/DCT Media.
Aberdeen Inspired chief executive Adrian Watson when the umbrella display was unveiled beneath sunny summer skies. Picture by Kath Flannery/DCT Media.

But city centre improvement group Aberdeen Inspired has lodged new plans to make use of the fixtures – and brighten up the lane in the dark months ahead.

Boss Adrian Watson says the “ceiling of light”, reminiscent of Glasgow’s Ashton Lane, would help to enhance the booming food and drink scene developing there.

If approved, the group want to keep it up from November until March.

Aberdeen Inspired has provided a design image showing how the lights would twinkle over the street.

‘Untidy’ patio at castle to be upgraded

In the Mearns, improvement plans have been lodged by a man whose home is literally his castle.

The 14th century Fetteresso Castle, on the outskirts of Stonehaven, was converted into seven unique homes in the 1990s.

Fetteresso Castle is one of the most picturesque landmarks in the Mearns. Supplied by Northwood

Now the owner of number 4, known as the Coach House, is seeking permission to improve and extend an “uneven and untidy” patio at the rear of the B-listed tower.

Lewis Matheson wants to replace it with slate slabs, while extending the area from 2.85m to 5.45m.

This image supplied by Macgillivray architects shows the patio at the rear of the impressive property.

Dyce Domino’s plan moves forward

Dyce pizza fans will be pleased to hear that plans for a new Domino’s in the Aberdeen suburb are heating up.

The international firm, headquartered in Michigan, unveiled proposals to open a branch in the old RBS building on Burnside Drive this summer.

The old Dyce RBS seen here in 2020. It’s now going from one sort of dough to another. Picture by Scott Baxter
The proposed signage has now been rubber-stamped.

The project has now surged forward, with Aberdeen City Council planning bosses approving the familiar Domino’s signage at the unit.

Since the bank closed three years ago the building has been divided, and now a Greggs bakery operates from one side of it.

Dyce Dominos staff might have to work this fast to serve excited fans when the parlour opens:

There are currently no details on further work to the building before it is ready to open.

New taxi office in Ellon town centre

Plans to turn a financial advisors in the heart of Ellon into a new taxi booking office have been approved.

This image from Google Maps shows the unit near to Neil Ross Square.

The proposal for 23 Bridge Street was submitted by Peterhead’s Paul Anderson, who runs Central Taxis.

There will be a large reception area and two smaller offices in the unit between the Symposium coffee shop and GLZ tanning salon.

Paul Anderson, managing director at Central Taxis. Picture by Kenny Elrick

Christmas celebrations approved

The fairy lights draped over Shiprow won’t be the only thing adding a festive feel to Aberdeen city centre in the weeks ahead.

Aberdeen Christmas Village. Picture by Picture by Kenny Elrick/DCT Media.
Aberdeen Christmas Village. Picture by Picture by Kenny Elrick/DCT Media.

The popular Aberdeen Christmas Village will return in November, having now been given the go-ho-ho-ahead by planning chiefs.

Fordoun village shop vision

Some good news for Fordoun residents, with plans submitted for a new village shop.

The new shop would open in the garage adjacent to the hotel if the plans are approved. Image from Google Maps.

Applicant Balal Sabir wants to turn the garage next to the Redhall Arms Hotel into the convenience store.

It would be the second scheme to breathe new life into the community in recent times, with the hotel being revived last December after spending years closed.

We'd like to thank all you lovely people who have joined us since we opened and over the festive period 😊 It was great…

Posted by Redhall Arms Hotel Fordoun on Monday, 3 January 2022

Decaying Aberdeen sandwich shop could become home

The sandwich shop is in an area popular with students, and close to the Aberdeen University campus.

Meanwhile the derelict former Th1s sandwich shop in Kittybrewster could soon be turned into a new home.

The 40 Sunnyside Road building has been empty for nearly a decade, and failed to attract any interest when offered for £38,000 at auction.

The shop has been lying vacant for nine years.

Landlord Shiva Chellaya, who lives in Dyce, has now given up on finding a new taker for the cafe.

Under the plans the ground floor space, which already has flats above it, would be turned into a one-bedroom flat with a shower, kitchenette and living/bedroom area.

There has been little interest in reviving the business as a cafe.

It comes after a planning application for a shed nearby in Old Aberdeen sparked uproar in the historic area.

Aberdeen University lecturer Anna Riemen now faces tearing down the structure built to indulge her love of gardening.

Peterculter Travellers face objections to home plans

A Traveller and her siblings will have to overcome local objections to turn land outside Peterculter into their home.

Chloe Stewart, whose family is understood to own the site next to Baads Wood on Anguston Road, wants permission for one chalet and two touring caravans at the spot.

The chalet, already in place, would be a permanent feature while the two caravans could stay there when not travelling the country.

This map sent to the council by LAS Planning shows the Peterculter Travellers site.

She is also seeking permission for an amenity block with a toilet, shower and laundry facilities – and the necessary accompanying drainage.

The 0.12 hectare site is opposite Ms Stewart’s parents’ home – from which they run a stud farm.

It forms part of “uncultivated agricultural land”.

Land at Baads Farm. Picture by Kath Flannery.

Documents sent to Aberdeen City Council say the applicant is “seeking
accommodation in line with their lifestyle”.

LAS Planning explains the importance of her siblings living there too.

This shows the surrounding rural landscape. Picture by Kath Flannery

The firm states: “This is particularly relevant given the lifestyle traits of the Gypsy/Traveller community.

“They require that families stay together whenever practical – but that separate living accommodation is made available to siblings and their respective spouses or families.”

This blueprint from LAS Planning shows how the new additions could be laid out, with the two new touring caravans and amenity block.

And the consultants say the alternative is locating families like the Stewarts “on municipal or public sites” which could be unsuitable or occupied by other Gypsy/Travellers.

It goes on to cite the lack of “adequate” pitches in the Aberdeen area, which often leads to “unauthorised sites” being used.

Another view of the rural land some Deeside residents are asking the council to protect. Picture by Kath Flannery

LAS Planning concludes: “The applicant proposes the site as a direct response to these issues and create a solution for her immediate extended family.

“It is argued that it is her knowledge and experience of this ethnic minority group that serves to identify what constitutes a suitable and sustainable site.”

Travellers have been forced to set up in unauthorised places like the deserted car parks at the old AECC site in Bridge of Don.

Why are people objecting?

Mark Robinson from the nearby Howe of Anguston Farm has officially objected.

His reason remains a mystery, though, writing only to the council: “We want to object”.

Despite the small scale of the proposal, Jennifer Dalgleish from Drumoak said she had “grave concerns” about “green belt land being reduced”.

She added: “Never before has the environment been more important both from a mental health perspective and also our climate crisis.”

Drumoak’s Lynne Skinner said she regularly walks and cycles in the area and is “increasingly worried” about “urban sprawl”.

She thinks it would be “more appropriate” for Travellers to live in larger numbers and in bigger camps.

Are local tensions blighting Peterculter Travellers’ bid?

Katrina Johnstone from Kemnay said she had a similar application approved on appeal by the Scottish Government.

And she lamented the “stress and anxiety” families endure due to the “stigma attached to Traveler communities”.

She said the process of trying to set up home can often be blighted by “racial tensions and lack of understanding”.

An image from 2016, when Travellers were looking to set up a permanent caravan site outside Kemnay. Picture by Heather Fowlie

Allison Stewart also hit back in a letter of support, blasting the lack of sites to the south of Aberdeen.

Her letter added: “Things have to change with integration between Gypsy/Travellers and settled communities.

“Travellers are an ethnic minority and the way of life should be supported.”

She asked the council to approve the plans to help “discourage the scaremongering”.

The council will have the final say on the Pererculter Travellers plans. Image from Kath Flannery.

And Kintore’s Jim Duncan said: “I really do think it’s important not to be racist and discriminate against any minority.

“It is clear to see that the development wouldn’t be an issue.”

The council will decide the Peterculter Travellers family’s application in the coming weeks.

Do you think the Traveller family’s plans should be endorsed? Let us know in our comments section

This article was amended on 25/10/2022 to remove reference in the headline to a “racism row”. While some of the reported planning consultation responses referred to concerns about the potential for race to play an element in the debate over the merits of the application, none of the reported objections were of that nature. We are sorry if the wording of the headline gave any readers the opposite impression and are very happy to clarify that there is no evidence of racism in the objections to the plans.

Major plans to give Portsoy lighthouse a permanent place

The Riding Out The Storm lighthouse sculpture was originally placed at Portsoy Harbour last summer, on a temporary basis, as part of a fundraising drive for the Clan cancer charity.

The sculpture became a beacon for visitors to the harbour. Supplied by Portsoy 75 Club

Locals quickly took it to their heart, and clubbed together to raise thousands of pounds to keep it there.

By the time it went under the hammer in November, they had amassed enough to buy it for £13,500 – the most expensive of all 58 auctioned off.

The structure seen here being inspected at the Thainstone Exchange, Inverurie, prior to being sold. Picture by Chris Sumner

The Portsoy 75 Club oversaw the bid on behalf of the coastal community.

And now the organisation has set out ambitious plans to make it a prominent feature of the picturesque port.

It proved popular with visitors (very) young and old!

Member Vivien Rae told the P&J how they want to create a paved area around the lighthouse, along with seating and wildflowers dotted about – all while respecting the historic nature of the harbour.

Taking care to use the right materials could mean a bill as high as £35-40,000 for the project.

The steel dolphin structure at Portsoy.

They hope the sculpture will become as popular as the dolphin statue on the other side of the port.

Vivien added: “The lighthouse brought a bit of hope when we were in and out of the Covid situation at the time.

“It will be the community’s lighthouse.”

The Portsoy 75 club updated their Facebook followers on the plans:

🔷 Portsoy Community Lighthouse Structure Update 🔷We are excited to share that plans have been submitted for the…

Posted by Portsoy 75 Club on Tuesday, 11 October 2022

New art trail to welcome Tillydrone visitors

Watch this space: Now art could be coming to the grassy area next to Tillydrone Community Centre.

More public art is in the works, this time with plans afoot to extend the Tillydrone Sculpture Trail.

It comes after the unveiling of stunning metal swans next to the Diamond Bridge recently.

The sculptures form part of an attractive gateway to the community. Picture by Paul Glendell

And now, the Tillydrone Gateway Feature team are back with plans for another installation at the other side of the Diamond Bridge.

They want permission for a “Tilly tops” series of sculptures, based on “spinning tops, seed pods, cogs and wheels” to “reflect hope and growth”.

It is hoped they will lead people down the River Don walk towards Seaton Park.

The plans could add a splash of colour to the banks of the Don. Supplied by Tillydrone Gateway Team

Demolished council office to become car park

And nearby, Aberdeen City Council wants to turn the site of a flattened former housing office into a new car park.

It comes after efforts to sell the land for shops or office space fell flat.

The site in question, next to what used to be the infamous Broadsword pub which is now a shop.

Now the council aims to put it to good use by helping provide extra space for those using the Tillydrone Campus building and RS McColl’s shop.

Of the 19 spaces earmarked for the ground, two would be for disabled drivers and two would have EV chargers.

This image from a Friday afternoon in October shows how busy the area can get.

Union Street to get much-needed boost

Finally, new plans for a combined 43 flats on Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare have been approved.

Union Street has fallen on hard times… Image by Kenny Elrick.

Just as Aberdeen FC chairman Dave Cormack revealed the sight of the once-bustling Union Street now makes him want to weep, some efforts to revive its flagging fortunes are ramping up.

Firstly, the council’s plans to refurbish 28 existing flats next to Aberdeen Music Hall have been approved.

The block has suffered from water ingress in recent years, and windows will now be replaced to “arrest this damage” before they are turned into “much-needed” affordable housing.

The block on the corner of Union Street and Huntly Street is in line for some TLC.

And nearby, former offices above the Geek Retreat gaming venue, Merkur Slots and Coral bookmakers will now be turned into 15 flats.

The scheme, detailed in Planning Ahead in May, is a slightly amended version of prior plans for 17 flats there.

The 181 Union Street site will now become housing. Picture by Kath Flannery

Developers Cater say this will “see all flats achieving a greater level of amenity”.

Overall there would be 10 one-bedroom properties and five with two bedrooms, under the proposals worth almost £2m.

Another view of the future flats. Picture by Kath Flannery.

Two of the proposed homes are specifically designed for wheelchair users.

The former Picture House and Gaumont cinema building was last used by the NHS as offices, but the upper floors have been empty for years.

Have a look around 181 Union Street here:


You can see this week’s plans for yourself using these links:

Shiprow lights 

Fetteresso Castle patio 

Dyce Dominos plans

Ellon taxi office

Aberdeen Christmas Village approved

Fordoun village shop

Aberdeen sandwich shop

Peterculter Travellers site

Portsoy lighthouse plans

Tillydrone gateway sculptures 

Tillydrone car park

Flats next to Music Hall and at 181 Union Street