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Macphie boss splitting Glenbervie manse as living costs soar, while mega-rich new American owners reveal Kildrummy Estate plans

Plans for the Glenbervie Estate and the KIldrummy Estate feature in our latest round-up
Knock Hill House could be divided into two separate properties as its owners battle rising living costs. Image: Macphie/Design Team

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

Our first instalment of 2023 comes at a time when people are understandably feeling mixed emotions about the year ahead.

Many of us are looking to the coming months with worry about the cost of winter fuel bills.

One couple taking action to cut costs are the owners of a former church manse at Glenbervie – as we describe their money-saving scheme to split the Mearns property.

We also have a look at Kildrummy Estate plans forged by the expanse’s new American owners.

But first, a new boat shed could be built overlooking one of the north-east’s most stunning beaches.

New boat shed planned for historic part of Cruden Bay

The owner of 4 Harbour Street in Cruden Bay wants to turn a patch of garden ground into a new boat shed, with its own picnic bench outside.

This fenced-off garden area would be transformed under the proposals. Image: Google Maps

The property was sold for £145,000 in June.

The plot is next to the Water of Cruden and has expansive views over the bay Bram Stoker is said to have roamed while conjuring up horror classic Dracula.

yacht ran aground cruden bay
Cruden Bay beach. image: Kenny Elrick/DCT Media

However, the land in question forms part of the Port Erroll Conservation Area, so the council has insisted certain requirements be met before the plan can go ahead.

It means “high quality materials” will have to be used so the area’s “inherent character” is not undermined by the fresh addition.

The boat shed would look out across the seafront. Image: Baxter Design
Aberdeenshire Council heritage chiefs apply strict standards to plans in conservation areas. Image: Baxter Design

Charity changing old offices in Aberdeen city centre

Meanwhile, the Mental Health Aberdeen charity has set out plans to do up Langstane House, just above Burger King at the corner of Dee Street and Union Street.

The new Mental Health Aberdeen base brings care right into the heart of the city. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

The organisation struck a deal to take over the building last summer.

Bosses said the move from Alford Place would help address “ever-increasing” demand for its services.

The huge premises is shared with other groups. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

The charity will turn old office space into counselling rooms, along with waiting and training areas.

Mental Health Aberdeen is now seeking permission for the string of internal alterations to the second floor.

This image shows how the second floor will be converted. Image: Space Solutions

Crown Street coffee shop proposal relaunched after sparking bitter row

Last spring, plans to turn the old Albyn Dental Laboratory into a coffee shop on Aberdeen’s Crown Street caused something of a stir.

The scheme was withdrawn after more than 30 people, mainly in the Dee Village apartment complex, objected.

The former Albyn Dental Laboratory. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

The residents argued that the coffee shop could cause unwelcome noise, an “increased risk” of seagulls and rats, and fumed against kitchen smells wafting into their homes.

Applicant Harry Miller has now come back with a renewed attempt.

Could it be second time lucky for the Albyn Dental Laboratory building plans? Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

On this occasion, Aberdeen City Council has raised some concerns.

Environmental health officers say there could indeed be an “adverse odour impact” for neighbours.

The former dentists is one of many vacant Crown Street buildings. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

But they have suggested they’d be fine with the change as long as conditions are imposed on what can be cooked there…

They would insist on there being “no cooking, frying or baking operations (including, but not limited to: deep fat frying, shallow frying, oven cooking, boiling, stewing, grilling or broiling)”.

They also say the potential for noise should be assessed to check if the transformation would impact neighbours.

Offshore industry stalwart’s plans for Cults property rejected

This time two years ago, Gunther Newcombe was recognised in what turned out to be the Queen’s penultimate New Year Honours list.

Mr Newcombe, who stood down from his post as operations director of the Oil and Gas Authority in 2020, was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to the sector.

Gunther Newcombe, as director of operations at The Oil and Gas Authority, making a speech at the Offshore Decommissioning Conference in 2019 in the Fairmont Hotel, St Andrews. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

The industry stalwart, who spent most of his career with BP, recently lodged plans for a new house at Cults along with his wife Michelle.

Papers lodged by Aurora Planning on their behalf explained their plans to knock down 12 Kirk Crescent South – which was sold for £250,000 in September 2020 – to make way for a bigger replacement.

The Cults property may have to stay as it is. Image: Google Maps
Here is how the replacement home would have looked. Image: Katrina Denholm Architects

They said the two-bedroom post-war bungalow “is poorly insulated and suffers from damp, thus falling short of modern living requirements”.

The proposed new home, Aurora said, would be much more energy efficient.

These images were sent to the council showing the current state of the house. Supplied by Aurora
The new owners believe it is not worth doing the property up. Supplied by Aurora

But Rhona MacFarlane, who lives nearby at Manor Place, said the 1.5 storey replacement would be “considerably taller” than the present bungalow – and would overlook her home.

She said it would “have a direct view into her garden and the upper floors of her house”.

And council planning bosses have agreed the proposed four-bedroom home would be too big for the site, “impacting on the amenity” of neighbours.

The plans have now been thrown out. Image: Katrina Denholm Architects

Glamping pod plans near Pitmedden

More and more glamping pods seem to be sprouting up across the north-east, as people increasingly favour getting away from it all with self-catered countryside breaks.

The latest proposal lodged with Aberdeenshire Council is for six bothies (each with their own hot tub) on Eastside Farm at Whitecairns, near Pitmedden.

This design blueprint shows how each of the holiday cabins would look. Image: Robert Lamb architects

Four-bedroom family holiday home at Braemar

Stefano and Sarah D’Anna, who run the London-based TD6 Ltd real estate firm, are seeking permission for a four-bedroom family home in Braemar.

Papers sent to Aberdeenshire Council explain that the couple already own the Lilybank property on the Linn of Dee Road, just yards from the River Dee.

This aerial view shows the site on the western periphery of the village. Image: Moxon Architects
The couple say Lilybank won’t suit their needs for much longer. Image: Google Maps

They stay at Lilybank during school holidays, and want to build the new home on the plot of land next door in the hope of spending more time in Deeside.

Moxon Architects adds: “With one parent having grown up in the Highlands, they are hopeful to return on a more consistent basis with their children.

“The children have worked at the Fife Arms Hotel and enjoy finding summer jobs around the village.”

This view shows the land next to Lilybank that the couple wish to build on. Image: Google Maps
And here is how it could look if the plan is approved. Image: Moxon Architects

The latest plans are a revised version of blueprints previously approved.

The tweaks have been made to “resolve several issues”, while providing a “better, more sustainable home” for the D’Anna family.

This concept image shows how the home would look from the rear. Image: Moxon Architects
The terrace at the front would offer views of the Dee and the Cairngorms. Image: Moxon Architects

Dyce building to go from collaring crooks to borrowing books

Last week, our Boxing Day edition detailed plans to turn old police offices at Bucksburn into new houses.

It comes as the former police station a few miles away in Dyce is being turned into a new library.

The building has been empty for some time. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

The proposal, unveiled this summer, will mean the facility becomes part of Dyce Community Centre on Gordon Terrace.

The library will be open longer, and will offer additional services, under the change.

Floor plans of the new library at Dyce. Image: Aberdeen City Council

Harbour concerns about Aberdeen quayside flats plans

At the end of November, The P&J revealed plans to turn the former Cromarty House office block beside Aberdeen harbour into 40 flats.

This building was only on the market for a few months. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

It came after risk management company DNV’s move to Dyce left the five-storey building vacant.

Since then, Port of Aberdeen (the new name for Aberdeen Harbour) has flagged a few concerns with the council.

The body’s property manager, Graeme Robbie, warns that anyone living at the 67-72 Regent Quay site might not be able to enjoy a “satisfactory residential environment”.

Cromarty House could be redeveloped as a 40-flat complex on the edge of Aberdeen Harbour
Cromarty House could soon be brought back to life as a block of 40 flats. Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

He adds: “The proposed development is situated next to a busy commercial harbour which is a 24-hour operation all year.

“Any residential development will be subject to noise issues from the operations undertaken at the harbour.”

Mr Robbie also fears that the 16 parking spaces earmarked won’t be enough, especially as parking isn’t allowed along Regent Quay.

Some parking would be available at the rear of the complex… But would it be enough? Image: Ben Hendry/DCT Media

The council’s education department has also weighed in.

Officer Andrew Jones explains the homes would fall in the catchment areas for Harlaw Academy and Hanover Street School – both of which are expected to be over-capacity in the next three years.

Hanover Street School is a short walk from Cromarty House.

Mr Jones says the development would add to that, and developers would be expected to contribute thousands towards improvements to accommodate more pupils.

Glenbervie steading conversion as living costs hit manse owners

The 300-year-old Knock Hill House has been in Ed Widdowson’s family for about 50 years.

And it was in a poor way when he and wife Holly launched renovation plans for the former church manse in 2021.

The building is opposite the Old Parish Church graveyard and between Macphie food factory buildings on the Glenbervie Estate south of Stonehaven.

The Glenbervie Estate, with the manse seen here in the middle of this aerial view. Image: Macphie

Mr Widdowson is the nephew of the company’s chairman Alastair Macphie. He started there himself in 2017 and joined the executive board in April.

Macphie has been in the family since 1928, and it now produces various ingredients for the food sector from its Glenbervie base.

When Mr and Mrs Widdowson took on Knock Hill House it was said to be “in a sorry state of disrepair”, and in need of “some serious restoration work to secure the building’s future”.

But the couple set to work on it, and the five-bedroom manse once attached to the Old Parish Church is now their family home.

The manse is now the couple’s home. Image: Building Workshop

Now, however, they are beginning to feel the financial strain of looking after such a large property.

And fresh plans have been submitted, seeking permission to split the large home and its accompanying steading into two separate houses – meaning some work will be required to bring the steading up to scratch.

This shows how the revamped steading would be divided from the house. Image: Building Workshop

Papers sent to Aberdeenshire Council from Building Worskshop architects explain that the “big country home” is too large for one family.

They say: “The recent increase in the cost of living, heating and maintaining the house has driven a decision to split Knock Hill House.”

Knock Hill House as seen from the graveyard. Image: Building Workshop

The steading already has a hallway, utility cupboards and a sitting room but will be expanded under the proposals to turn it into a separate home.

This drone footage soars over the surrounding countryside:

What household changes are you making to keep costs down? Let us know in our comments section below

Multi-millionaire socialites lay plans for Kildrummy Estate

Finally, we journey from the 20,000-acre Glenbervie Estate to the slightly smaller (5,600-acre) Kildrummy Estate near Alford.

The vast expanse was bought by multi-millionaire American couple Chris and Camille Bentley in 2020 for £11 million.

The Kildrummy estate, which stretches across 5,600 acres. Image: Savills

The socialites are known as major supporters of the arts in California, and campaigners for animal rights.

Kildrummy Estate had been famous for its moors used for grouse shooting and deer stalking, along with an 18MW wind farm and two historic houses.

The Strathdon site also hosts the popular Kildrummy Inn, and the remains of Kildrummy Castle.

The Kildrummy Inn serves some of the nicest meals in the north-east. Image: Kami Thomson/DCT Media

Two months after the sale went through, Mr and Mrs Bently halted shooting there – saying they “oppose all forms of animal cruelty and abuse of wildlife “.

And last January, they told Reuters about how they are restoring an old manor as their new home.

They now want to turn the land into a “semi-wilderness where dwindling species are revived and protected”.

Papers have now been lodged by the Kildrummy Estate Office seeking permission for some changes.

Documents submitted to the council explain that the new owners are “carrying out a series of improvements across the estate to address a backlog of repairs”.

The manor on the estate. Image: Savills

As well as undoing the damage caused “by a lack of past investment”, they want to “enhance the overall appearance of the estate”.

With this in mind, Mr and Mrs Bently want to repair a decaying drystone boundary wall running along the A97 road.

This picture sent to the council shows the deteriorating wall. Image: LDN Architects

The plans penned by LDN Architects state: “The wall is in an advanced state of decay and has collapsed in many places due to damage caused by the beech hedge adjacent to it.”

The Americans also want to boost safety by relocating the entrance to the castle field, thereby putting it in a more visible position.

The current entrance to the Kildrummy Estate office. Image: LDN Architects

And the pair are looking to install a new boundary fence, while putting an overhead BT cable underground.

They say the changes to the fence will “open currently hidden views of the Kildrummy Castle ruins and their imposing setting”.

The entrance could also be widened – meaning the field currently used for farming purposes could in the future host a beloved Donside tradition…

The ruins of Kildrummy Castle are seen in this photo. Image: Savills

The papers state: “It’s possible that the field may be used to hold the annual Kildrummy Vintage Car Rally which formerly took place on the estate.

“The use and access to the field for this purpose would be the subject of other applications…

“But the entrance gate width has been sized to allow two vehicles to pass in opposite directions and avoid a potential bottle neck if an event does take place.”

Journey back in time with this footage from the 1959 rally:

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

Cruden Bay boat shed

Mental Health Aberdeen plans

Crown Street coffee shop

Replacement home in Cults

Whitecairns glamping

New Braemar home

Dyce police station

Aberdeen harbour noise concerns

Knock Hill House steading conversion

Kildrummy Estate plans detailed