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Neighbour fighting US whisky giant’s plans to expand Portsoy distillery and new Aberdeen airport car park as passenger numbers take off

Plans have been lodged to expand the Glassaugh distillery near Portsoy with six new warehouses
Glassaugh distillery expansion plans might only come to pass depending on archaeological studies. Image: Roddie Reid/DCT Media

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

At a time of year when many of us are looking forward to a tipple, the whisky giants who own Jack Daniel’s are plotting a huge expansion of their Glassaugh distillery outside Portsoy.

But the woman who lives next door is putting up a spirited fight, in a David vs Goliath tussle against the US firm worth billions of dollars.

And local historians are demanding that an archaeological dig take place before any work commences.

First, though, we have a look at some impressive home improvement plans on the outskirts of Banchory…

Renovations to ensure Deeside family home fit for the modern age

Kyle Shearer and Anna MacDonald want to extend the master bedroom at Rainbow’s End at Inchmarlo while adding a large decking area.

They say the changes will ensure a “home suited to modern family life in 2022” that is “befitting of contemporary Scottish Architecture”.

Designers say the addition will provide the owners with a “semi-private external space” at the house yards from the banks of the River Dee. Image: BW Macintyre architects
The decking next to the master bedroom would be perfect for “reading a book, enjoying the garden or keeping a watchful eye on children”. Image: BW Macintyre architects
The couple say the property currently “lacks a sense of cohesion”, and that makes living there “a challenge”. Supplied by BW Macintyre architects

Fraserburgh maisonette could become flats

Meanwhile, Balmedie’s Steven Reid wants to transform one large house at 82 Commerce Street in Fraserburgh into three new apartments.

It comes after the five-bedroom property was put on the market for offers between £55,000 and £75,000.

The 82 Commerce Street address is near the heart of the Broch. Image: Google Maps

The ground floor property would have two bedrooms, while the first floor would have one flat with one bedroom and the other would come with two.

New glamping pods approved

Proposals to build two new glamping pods at Gamrie, near Banff, have been rubber-stamped.

This 3D design shows how the huts will look. Image: Mantell Ritchie

Developers say the huts will “offer an alternative way of camping” with no negative impact on nearby caravan sites.

The location, accessed off the Gardenstown to Macduff road, would be within easy distance of nearby tourist attractions like the Banff Links golf course.

Royal Bank of Scotland wants glowing presence on Union Street

The RBS building at 78-80 Union Street could soon have luminous new signs. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

With the festive season in full swing, recent visitors to Aberdeen city centre will notice no shortage of glowing lights…

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) now wants to add to the illuminations with new light-up signage at its Union Street branch.

Shoppers braved the chill to visit the city centre on Thursday. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

The banking giant is seeking permission for the changes to the B-listed building, which Historic Environment Scotland says “contributes significantly to the streetscape of Union Street”.

They say it won’t impact on the 100-year-old building or the surrounding area.

This regular signage could soon be thrown out. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

Community backs plan to cash in on empty bank building

Changes are also in the works for another Aberdeen bank building… Though this one has been empty for many months.

The old TSB building on Great Western Road has been empty for some time. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

This autumn, sisters Claire Tester and Lucy Slattery announced plans to turn an old TSB into a diner in Mannofield.

They want the vacant unit on Great Western Road to become a “family-friendly artisan cafe/delicatessen”, showcasing the best local produce.

The new business plan has been backed by 20 people already.

Locals say the scheme will bring back a type of shop not seen in Mannofield for some time. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

John Otto, who lives on Craigton Road, has been in the area for decades and is eager to see the change take place.

In his letter to the council, he said: “I admire anyone investing money into such a project in the current climate, and think it will only have a positive effect on Mannofield.

“I say this, having lived in Mannofield for over 50 years and seeing lovely shops like this lost long ago, let’s help get one back!

If passed, I will look forward to frequenting with family and friends, the added bonus being it’s within walking distance.”

This concept picture shows how the building could be brought back to life. Image: Ken Mathieson

Stephen Keil, of Airyhall Drive, added: “Great idea, our community needs more options!”

Avril Sutherland described it as a “fab addition”, while Millie Frost said it would “join the people here together”.

The cafe would have a lot of space inside, and outdoor seating. Image: Ken Mathieson

However, there have been a handful of objections.

Gordon Rennie, of Great Western Road, said residents already face parking problems and bemoaned extractor fans “blowing cooking odour into Duthie Terrace”.

He added: “There is already six food outlets in a 500 yard stretch on Great Western Road.”

Claire Tester and Lucy Slattery outside their city centre Moossh salon, which they took over this summer. Image: Paul Glendell

Ewen Brown, from Morningside Avenue, worried about the venue ultimately selling alcohol.

He said: “The plans clearly show an area by the deli counter set aside for wine.

“I am concerned this is the first step in gaining a licence for the property and the associated noise from patrons.”

The council will decide on the plans in the coming weeks.

The building is on the corner of Duthie Terrace and Great Western Road. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

Newmachar solar farm could play huge role in local climate fight

Developers have taken the first steps towards creating a solar farm south of Newmachar.

Sonnedix Weston Ltd wants to erect solar panels across fields spanning 60 hectares at Broombrae Farm.

The land outlined in red would be transformed under the eco scheme. Image: AAH Consultants

They say it could produce enough energy to power more than 6,400 homes every year – while saving 5,700 tonnes of carbon from entering the environment.

The fields are currently part of the farm, and animals would still be able to graze alongside the panels if the scheme goes ahead.

The fields as they look today. Image: Google Maps

Plans to re-route Deeside Way go off course…

A few weeks ago, Planning Ahead revealed proposals to re-route a section of the Deeside Way to create space for a garage expansion.

Dinnet Garage, just off the A93 between Aboyne and Ballater, wanted extra room for parking and storage at the rear.

The garage wanted to re-route the path along the above course, with new bends attracting criticism… Supplied by John Wink Design

As part of this, they sought permission from Aberdeenshire Council to redirect the path currently along the old railway line.

Cyclist Richard Buckle, from Aboyne, soon sent in a letter of objection.

Mr Buckle said: “The four very sharp bends introduced unnecessarily provide a serious risk of collision and injury as they are ‘blind’ corners.

“The Deeside Way should follow the original course for safety.”

Dinnet Garage submitted the plans after a successful few years for the business. Image: Google Maps

It appears garage bosses have now gone back to the drawing board, with the plans withdrawn.

Hopes to expand airport car park as passenger numbers bounce back

Aberdeen Airpark was an early victim of the pandemic.

With flights grounded and people having to stay home, trade quickly dried up and the 750-space site closed within weeks of lockdown rules coming into effect.

Businessman Garry Macrae, who had been running it for 17 years, said he no longer had the means to pay the Dyce firm’s 20 employees.

The land earmarked for new development. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

But since those dark days for the airline industry, passenger numbers at Aberdeen Airport have started to take off again.

Figures are now said to be at 68% of their pre-Covid levels.

Fights between London City and Aberdeen are operating on the Embraer E190 aircraft. Image: Aberdeen International Airport.

That resurgence was reflected in the opening of the new Airparks Express next to the Crowne Plaza hotel in July, with 462 spaces.

In its second month, it had already achieved a 94% occupancy rate and is usually 90% full.

And ABZ Development Ltd, which owns the land, has now submitted plans to extend the car park.

They say the site is in a “strategic location” adjacent to the main gate, within the ABZ Business Park.

The area earmarked for the expansion plan is outlined in red. Image: Halliday Fraser Munro
The land has been lying empty for some time. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

The patch of land, which has been empty for 10 years, could supply an extra 193 spaces if the expansion is approved.

The 0.62 hectare site would be just a 500m walk from Aberdeen International Airport.

Planning consultants from Halliday Fraser Munro say the average duration of a stay is just over seven days, describing Airparks Express as the only alternative to airport-owned parking.

The new airport car park was busy on the cold December morning we visited, with many taking the chance to escape to sunnier climes. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media
The empty patch of land could soon be put to good use. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

Extension needed to satisfy holidaymaker demand

They added: “As Aberdeen airport returns to pre-Covid levels, the car park would require an additional 176 spaces to meet demand, based on a maximum occupancy of 94% in September.

“The extension would help to satisfy demand, and continue to support the airport by providing a better supply of accessible parking.

“This extension would go some way towards impacting on the lack of airport-related parking.”

Dyce and Stoneywood Community Council has backed the idea already.

These customers are setting off on the short walk from the car park to the airport. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

Have you been making more use of the airport to jet off abroad since Covid? Let us know in our comments section below!

Glassaugh distillery expansion sparks concerns 

Finally, we look at plans to expand the Glassaugh distillery on the outskirts of Portsoy.

Its owners are hoping to store whisky galore on coastal fields just yards from where the 2016 remake of the classic comedy was filmed.

The scheme has been lodged by American owners Brown-Forman, who also run the Benriach plant outside Elgin and Glendronach at Huntly.

The company, worth billions, owns Jack Daniel’s too.

They want permission to erect six new warehouses next to the Portsoy facility – with a new access road too.

The Glassaugh distillery has had many ups and downs over the years, before being bought by the Jack Daniel’s owners in 2016. Image: ECD Architects

Why the need to expand?

Glassaugh distillery dates back to 1874, with a few periods of closure in its almost 150-year history.

Since being taken over in 2016, it has undergone a “significant transformation” worth £2 million.

Production has soared by 75%, and Brown-Forman believes it can grow to become a major international player.

This aerial picture shows the field that could be transformed south of the distillery. Image: ECD Architects

But there is only enough warehouse space for 40,000 casks – and they need space for an extra 60,000 to achieve that goal.

The proposed site is just south of the plant and is owned by the applicant.

Each warehouse would be 6,000 square metres, and the whisky giants say there is no other available land big enough to accommodate them.

The proposed warehouses as they would look from the road passing Glassaugh distillery. Image: ECD Architects

Planning papers from ECD Architects state: “The importance of the project to the distillery and the company cannot be underestimated.

“It has been identified that the development of additional cask storage on site is central to the integrity of the Glenglassaugh story.

“The growing reputation and international reach of the Glenglassaugh brand will bring significant community benefits to Portsoy and the surrounding area.

“There is no doubt it will attract international visitors and tourists providing welcome and wide ranging benefits to local bed and breakfasts, hotels and restaurants.”

But historians have weighed in on the expansion – as the huge new structures would be erected next to a “nationally significant” north-east windmill.

What’s so special about the windmill?

General James Abercrombie built the monument after returning home from his military career fighting in the American wars of independence between 1689-1763.

The Glassaugh windmill, is being turned into a stunning new home next to the distillery. Due to its distinctive appearance, it is known as the “cup and saucer”.

He created it by recycling a supply of building materials from a bronze-age burial cairn.

And the A-listed landmark is now being turned into one of the region’s most eye-catching homes. 

This concept design shows how the six large warehouses would be spread out, with the historic windmill to the north of the area. Image: ECD Architects

Benriach acknowledges the “legal protection” afforded the ancient monument, meaning it should be shielded from harmful development.

But bosses say the “sloping nature of the site” will lessen any impact on the windmill.

This drone footage shows the site in question: 

Meanwhile. the council’s archaeologist Claire Herbert says “further investigation” is required before any work can take place.

She explained that a “cluster of pits” was discovered at the south-west corner of the land six years ago, and more digging will be required to uncover any other pieces of history.

The council official says the work, needed to “safeguard and record the archaeological potential of the area”, should be carried out by a “suitably qualified archaeological contractor”.

The windmill seen here from the A98 road near Sandend. Image: ECD Architects

Would whisky casks galore attract robbers?

And Margaret Birch, who owns one of the nearby cottages has officially objected, saying the warehouses would “impinge the view of the historic ‘cup and saucer’ (windmill) which has been a landmark in the area for many years”.

The next door neighbour also bemoaned an increase in lorries, with the existing road being “in poor repair”.

She even suggested the extra warehouses would “attract thieves” and cause a “greater threat to residents”.

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

Banchory home plans

Fraserburgh flats

Banff glamping pods 

RBS changes

Moossh cafe feedback

Deeside Way scheme scrapped 

Newmachar solar farm 

Aberdeen airport car park expansion 

Glassaugh distillery plans