Plans to turn a fishing shack into a seafood hut have been refused amid fears screaming children could run out into traffic after being “scared by lobsters”.
Stonehaven’s Seafood Bothy wanted to transform a derelict seafront storage unit into a new arm of the business.
The independent firm operates from a modified horse box along the town’s pier, which can be forced to close when storms strike.
Owner Maria Lewis forged plans to weather-proof the business by taking over a former fishing shed yards away along the quayside.
It would even have had a lobster tank, to help teach children about local marine life.
During a recent council meeting, concerns were raised that visitors could be at risk from traffic along the busy Shorehead stretch.
They heard that Stonehaven is “getting busier and busier”, with the harbour a popular visitor destination.
And one councillor even voiced fears that children could become spooked by the sudden movement of a crustacean – and come to harm as they flee into the road in distress.
Seafood Bothy plans rejected despite public support
The planning application was submitted last summer.
A wave of support soon rolled in, with 56 people writing to the council to back the local trader’s aspirations.
They said the Seafood Bothy had encouraged visitors to Stonehaven, benefiting other companies in the process.
But 10 people objected, citing the “unsafe” location in the busy harbour area.
And the local authority’s roads department also advised against the plans, warning about a “significant” safety risk facing people queuing for fishy snacks by the roadside.
Last month, “freezing” weather prevented the Seafood Bothy from opening:
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Why were Seafood Bothy plans rejected?
The Seafood Bothy planning application recently went before members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee.
Mrs Lewis addressed the room, saying that she would only operate from the Shorehead shack in the quieter winter months, while her usual place of business is out of action.
And the trader issued an impassioned plea to keep the harbour’s heritage alive.
She said: “I thought I was doing good, trying to bring more people in…
“This is something that has to continue in the harbour. Fishing will eventually disappear.
“We already send out 95% of our stock abroad, there’s only 5% we keep in Stonehaven Harbour – and that’s me.”
The trader added: “If I stop doing it, that’s it gone. It will just become a harbour that doesn’t have any fishing history.”
Mrs Lewis confirmed that there would be “no other options” available for her plans.
Would lobsters alarm children?
One subsequent exchange seemed to leave the businesswoman baffled, as committee convener Wendy Agnew asked if she would be “putting water in” the tanks.
Mrs Lewis responded: “Yes, you have to put water in to keep the lobsters alive.”
You can watch the meeting here:
Lingering on the lobster issue, Mrs Agnew said the glass-encased sea creatures could exacerbate the concerns highlighted by the council’s roads team.
She said: “I visit the harbour quite often and my worry is that, with the lobster tank, children will look at them and then a lobster will move…
“And [the children] will scream and run, they may run out into the road and… bang.
“I don’t think I could have that on my conscience.”
Other councillors agreed that the road issues could not be overcome, and the idea of a one-year trial was dismissed.
The plans were ultimately refused by eight votes to four.
You can see the application here.