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Row over Crovie extension ‘blocking Moray Firth view’, Drumoak pub plans revived and generator for Stonehaven care home

There's proposals to help celebrate the coronation in Ballater in our jam-packed weekly round-up too.

Plans have been lodged for an extension at a Crovie fishing cottage
A row over an extension to a historic former fishing cottage at Crovie features in our latest round-up. Image: Kenny Elrick/Clarke Cooper

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

The nights are finally getting lighter, and warmer times don’t seem too far away.

And this week’s instalment has plans lodged by park volunteers to make sure a Bridge of Don beauty spot looks its best for springtime strolls.

The months ahead will also bring another historic moment with the coronation of King Charles in May, and Ballater locals are already making preparations to celebrate in style…

Park volunteers need permission for hut or will have to return £10,000

Firstly, the Friends of Westfield Park are hoping to make it easier to look after the Bridge of Don expanse.

The “small but enthusiastic non-profit group” received £10,400 to buy a new storage container with an eco-friendly green roof last year.

🌟🌟In December we asked all our followers, and everyone who knows us, to vote for us in the #JTPBFund. We are delighted to say that thanks to your votes we have received £10,400! Distributed by ACVO and Volunteer Aberdeen and Nescan Hub on behalf of The Scottish Government, this fund will allow us, and 13 other #Aberdeen based groups, to kickstart our eco-friendly projects. For us this means we’ll be able to purchase a container (with a green roof) to store our tools and equipment; buy gazebos to hold outdoor sessions in and purchase interpretation board stands. The next few months is going to be a busy time organising for us!You can find a note of all the successful projects at #JTPBFund 🌟🌟

Posted by Friends of Westfield Park on Monday, 6 February 2023

And members are now seeking permission to install the 20ft structure near the Get Active @ Alex Collie sports centre.

But unless the plans are approved by March 31, the Just Transition funding will have to be returned.

The Friends of Westfield Park say they help locals to “reconnect with nature”. Image: Wullie Marr

The volunteers explain that having the container would mean they have a space there to store equipment and tools.

This would help “reduce the time and cost of transporting equipment, as well as their carbon footprint”.

Volunteer Kaleb Balka helps Jennie Miller set up signs for a trail at the park in 2021. Image: Wullie Marr

It would also be used as a meeting point and a place to “share knowledge” with school pupils and community groups.

The green roof is planned to help boost biodiversity in the area, and Bridge of Don Community Council has already backed the project.

The park is a popular spot with Bridge of Don residents. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

New report sheds light on decision to demolish blaze-hit Braemar Lodge

Braemar’s hospitality offering has come under the spotlight in the last few weeks.

While renewed plans to revitalise the Invercauld Arms were unveiled last month, the Deeside village’s Moorfield Guesthouse closed for good.

This all comes following the devastating blaze that robbed the community of the Braemar Lodge hotel last March.

Watch as flames tear through the venue:

In the aftermath, the “unsafe structure” was fenced off.

And by summertime, diggers had moved onto the site of the ruined former Victorian hunting lodge.

Our video shows the demolition taking place:

Now the owners have lodged papers retroactively seeking the council’s permission for the destruction of the C-listed building.

A report describes how the flames spread from the kitchen to a gas tank, with the huge explosion causing the burning building major “impact damage”.

Braemar Lodge Hotel was left a blackened shell. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Later studies confirmed the full extent of the damage, and CRGP architects say they told the council about the need for it to be demolished.

An e-mail from senior planner Neil Mair tells the firm: “Do what is needed to make the site safe.

“The planning process can catch up in due course.”

Debris was strewn around the Braemar landmark. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Plans to keep Canadian Hall bats at bay approved

Last week, Planning Ahead detailed proposals to fix swift boxes to the side of Stonehaven Sheriff Court.

This week, we bring news that plans for a bat box at a historic Aberdeenshire concert hall have been rubber-stamped.

Haddo House owners the National Trust for Scotland are dealing with a bat infestation
The Canadian Hall at Haddo House last summer became home to a roost of about 600 bats.

It comes after parts of the Canadian Hall at Haddo House were declared off-limits after an invasion of bats put people “at risk”.

The flying creatures had been making their home in the control room of the building, which is mainly used for shows and weddings, this summer.

This shows where the bat box will be attached to the building. Image: Countrywise

Experts say there were “in the region of 600” roosting in the backstage area, with some known to flap overhead during performances.

The council has now rubber-stamped the plans, saying the bat box would not impact on the “historic character” of the building.

Crovie extension to ‘block neigbour’s view of the Moray Firth’

Crovie is the smallest and most remote of the former fishing villages along the Buchan coast, with just a single row of houses facing the shore.

The 44 Crovie property was sold for £45,000 in December 2021 – and plans to revamp the crumbling cottage were formed last year.

The dramatic and beautiful fishing community of Crovie

The B-listed building dates back to 1800.

Banff-based Mantell Ritchie architects say it was “in a very poor state” upon purchase, having been unoccupied for more than 20 years.

There wasn’t even a toilet – and nor had there ever been one in the home.

This image captures the historic fishing village in 1981. Image: DC Thomson

To bring it up to modern standards, with an accessible bathroom, kitchen, living area and bedroom all on the ground floor, some serious work was deemed necessary.

However, the proposed alterations and extensions would mean raising the roof – which left some neighbours unhappy.

The roof at 44 Crovie backs onto 45 Crovie. Image: Mantell Ritchie architects

Crovie cottage ‘should be preserved’

Ruth West said that elevating the roof would have a “detrimental impact on her view, light and privacy”.

She added: “This single-storey house is typical of Crovie, and should be preserved as such.

“Alteration of the wall height will change the roof position and character of the building and may set a dangerous precedence in the village.”

Pie Chalmers added: “These cottages are supposed to remain with the same dimensions as when they were built as it is a conservation village.”

Another neighbour, at 45 Crovie, said the higher roof would “directly obscure” the “only sea-facing window” at that property – spoiling views of the Moray Firth.

Crovie remains much the same today as when it was built 200 years ago. Image: Kenny Elrick

But Aberdeenshire Council said lifting the roof by a meter would be acceptable, saying the competing demands of development and conservation should not be seen as “mutually exclusive”.

Ballater preparing to fly the flag for King’s coronation

There are few places in the UK that can claim greater links with royalty than Ballater.

Now locals in the village a stone’s throw from Balmoral are forging plans to help celebrate the upcoming coronation of King Charles – and future milestones.

Last autumn, King Charles attended a reception in Ballater alongside the Queen Consort to thank the local community for their organisation following the death of Queen Elizabeth. Picture by Kenny Elrick.

Ballater and Crathie Community Council has applied for permission for a 10m flagpole in the heart of the community.

They hope to have it installed by the time the historic event comes around on May 8.

The flagpole would be erected on the village green next to Glen Muick church. Image: Google Maps

The community council, which has lodged the proposal on behalf of the wider Ballater Enhancement Group, told The P&J there used to be a flagpole in the same spot beside Glenmuick Church many years ago.

Generator for Stonehaven care home

Storm Arwen caused untold misery when it swept through the UK in late 2021, with devastating consequences across the north-east.

Thousands of people were left without electric supply for days, and major concerns were raised for vulnerable care home residents amid the blackouts.

In Aberdeenshire, the Alastrean House home in Tarland was hit – with a generator arriving after pensioners there endured more than a day without any power.

SSEN team deliver power generator Glenshee to help in the aftermath last year. Supplied by SSEN and Stuart Nicol.

In the aftermath, there followed calls for all care homes to be equipped with backup devices.

Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East region, Liam Kerr issued the plea during debates following the horror conditions.

And now CrossReach, a Church of Scotland-owned care home provider, is applying to install one at the 20-flat Clashfarquhar House on Stonehaven’s Robert Street.

Clashfarquhar House was built as a hotel. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Papers say the application for the 135kVA generator has been prompted by Aberdeenshire Council.

Clashfarquhar House started off life as the 40-bedroom Bay Hotel.

In 1969 cattle-breeder Jimmy Nicol bought it and gifted it to the Church of Scotland as a home for the elderly.

The church has been running the venue for more than 50 years now. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Drumoak pub plans revived

In 2015, Drumoak lost its only pub when the Irvine Arms closed.

It had been at the heart of village life for decades by the time last orders were called.

The Drumoak pub staged a BBQ to celebrate when Prince Charles and Diana Spencer tied the knot. Press and Journal cutting from the British Newspaper Archive.

The building was left to decay for some time before being flattened in the last few years.

While the bar lay vacant, plans were formed for a replacement venue.

The Irvine Arms seen here in 2015 after it closed. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson
Here is the site as it looks today. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

In 2016, the owner asked Aberdeenshire Council for permission to create the new pub on the northern side of the A93 Aberdeen to Banchory road to the west of Keithmuir Gardens.

Three years later, and with no signs of progress, it appeared the project had been abandoned.

The land was put back on the market, with estate agents suggesting a range of uses for it.

The site earmarked for the Drumoak pub has become very overgrown. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

What is happening with the Irvine Arms now?

Now, however, owners, the Firm of the Irvine Arms, are showing renewed commitment to bringing a local back to the village.

They are seeking renewal of the approval previously given, with “various issues caused by the last few years” said to have impeded progress.

The Drumoak pub would be just off the A93 on the way to Banchory from Drumoak. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Architect Kevin Groundwater says the plans could not be brought to fruition by the current deadline, and the renewal will afford developers “sufficient time”.

Blueprints indicate the new Drumoak pub would comprise a public bar, function room, dining area, lounge and outdoor seating area.

Designs indicate it would be known as the Irvine Arms, and there would be three bedrooms along with a kitchen and living room upstairs for staff.

This is how the proposed establishment would be laid out. Image Groundwater Architectural Design
And this shows how the exterior of the Drumoak pub would look. Image: Groundwater Architectural Design

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

Bridge of Don park plans

Braemar Lodge

Bat box approved

Crovie extension row

Ballater flagpole

Stonehaven care home generator 

Irvine Arms revival