The first images have been revealed of how a new visitor centre at a historic Aberdeenshire castle could look.
The plans for the centre at the iconic Dunnottar Castle, south of Stonehaven, were revealed yesterday by the owners of the Scots fortress, Dunecht Estates.
Their proposals include additions to the coastal walkway around the 15th-century ruins, and two new viewing points to enjoy the Mearns scenery on each side of the castle.
There are also plans for a park on an area currently used as farmland situated between Stonehaven and the Castle, and proposals for five homes near Dunnottar Lodge as part of the plans.
A new pathway could also be constructed around Stonehaven’s war memorial – which neighbours the castle.
A new set of steps may also be constructed at the far end of Stonehaven Harbour, near the start of the coastal walk to Dunnottar.
If the plans comes to be, the flat-roofed visitor centre itself would be built next to Dunnottar Lodge and include a cafe, shop and exhibition space with views to the castle.
Last night Stuart young, chief executive of Dunecht Estates, said that a huge surge in annual visitor numbers – from 60,000 to 80,000 in a matter of years – had prompted the idea.
He said: “We first started to think about a visitor centre five or six years ago. Visitor numbers continue to increase, as numbers increase the pressures on facilities has been noticeable.
“The concept is more than a visitor centre, the idea is to provide a facility that was something for Stonehaven as well.”
The organisation estimates the cost of the development will be around £1.5million.
The architect behind the designs, Neil Cruikshank of Archial Norr, said: “The scheme we have developed has been done in close communication with (council) planning and went through different phases and guises.
“We are not looking to do something that is twee (but) something that is built of its time but without shouting its presence for miles around.
“We’re looking for something that is high-quality. We don’t want to do something here that is just a shed. This is a once in a lifetime project to design this site.”
A planning application will be lodged to Aberdeenshire Council at a future date.