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Aberdeen office needs showers for sweaty cyclists and £6 million Altens block built in 2007 faces demolition

While the Albert Street office is moving with the times, Wellington House has been left redundant just years after it was hailed as the future.

A historic Aberdeen office building is installing showers for staff who opt to cycle in.
A historic Aberdeen office building is installing showers for staff who opt to cycle in. Image: Ben Hendry/Roddie Reid

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

With the warmer months approaching, many office employees will be leaving their car at home, bypassing the bus and jumping on their bikes to get to work.

Getting in a bit of exercise first thing can certainly put a spring in your step.

But pedalling along on a sunny morning can have some unwanted side effects, especially if your office doesn’t have a shower…

This week, we have plans from an Aberdeen firm to transform the basement of their listed building for just that purpose.

Elsewhere the Wellington House office block – hailed as a blueprint for the future of workplaces when it was erected in just 2007 – now faces demolition.

Old mill could be demolished for new homes

A mill and steading at Foveran could be demolished to make way for three homes.

The buildings have fallen into disrepair since owner John Russell Duncan died aged 87  in 2005.

The mill has crumbled into ruin over the years. Image: Eleanor Alexander architects

While the steading has been used for storage, its roof is said to be “close to collapse”.

The mill has been disused and is similarly dilapidated.

Heritage experts say there’s no saving the structure just off the A975. Image: Eleanor Alexander architects

Now Raeburn Christie Trustees want to redevelop the land near Newburgh.

The firm appointed experts Cameron and Ross to inspect the structures in January, who concluded they were not fit to be converted.

But the B-listed former corn and meal mill dates back to the 17th century, and history buffs have raised concerns.

The mill seen here on a map from 1866. Image: Eleanor Alexander Architects

Claire Herbert, from the council’s archaeology department, urged a rethink.

She wrote: “We would encourage the maintenance, enhancement, appropriate active use and conservation of archaeological sites such as this, especially in this instance given its age.”

In 1892, The Press and Journal advertised that the building was up for let. Image: British Newspaper Archive

Newburgh garage to sell second-hand cars

Nearby, the Newburgh Motors garage is seeking permission to start displaying and selling second-hand cars.

Posted by Newburgh Motors on Thursday, 8 April 2021

The vehicles would be shown off a patch of grass just off the B900 leading to the village.

But Aberdeenshire Council’s roads department has objected due to a lack of information on how the scheme could affect the route.

The grassy area could soon be filled with used motors up for sale. Image: Google Maps

Esslemont Avenue cafe transformation sealed

Aberdeen City Council has rubber-stamped plans to turn the former reception area of the Skene serviced apartment block on Esslemont Avenue into a pair of cafes.

Over the past several months, Planning Ahead has detailed changes to the three Skene buildings across the city.

The Skene House building is on the corner with Whitehall Place. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The company’s serviced apartments around the city centre are being turned into mainstream flats, amid declining demand for their original use.

And as part of the changes, the reception and breakfast area on the ground floor of the Whitehall apartments will now become two food and drink venues.

Charles Skene pictured at the building in 2017. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Neil Rothnie Architecture advised the council that the exact type of venue moving in is not yet known.

But anything “involving the cooking of food” will “not be encouraged” so that neighbours don’t have to put up with unwelcome wafts.

The new businesses, whatever they may be, would be opposite the popular Cult of Coffee shop.

The new residents of the flats could soon have some new dining options. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Auchenblae homes could cause neighbour ‘constant darkness’

Homes will be built on the long-vacant site of an Auchenblae hotel that was demolished after a devastating explosion.

Late last year developers put forward the plans for land once occupied by the Drumtochty Arms Hotel.

Barmaid at the time Danielle Ormond was rescued from the rubble with three broken ribs, a broken vertebra, a broken thumb and a collapsed lung. Image: DC Thomson
Within weeks of the explosion, this was all that remained of the hotel. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

It was demolished in 2009 after the gas blast injured three people, including one woman who suffered a collapsed lung.

Since then, the unsightly spot has remained an unwelcome reminder of the infamous night.

This photo was taken four years after the demolition, with no takers coming forward to open another hotel there. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Estate manager Dougal Lindsay from the nearby Drumtochty Castle – which owns the land – submitted the application.

AB Roger and Young Architects said: “We are proposing that the unused site is given a new lease of life and is turned into two domestic properties.”

The plot is in the centre of the village known for its quaint housing. Image: Google Maps

Why does neighbour fear ‘misery’ as a result of plans?

But Michael Munro, who lives nearby at Market Square, says the height of the two-home block “will undoubtedly reduce the light into his house”, and “cause constant darkness”.

Mr Munro says this will create a “dismal environment”, forcing him to spend more on heating bills “at a time when fuel costs are rocketing”.

He said the owners’ attempts to “maximise profits” with the large homes would “maximise misery” in the Mearns village which boasts “some of the most quaint and prettiest houses listed in Scotland”.

The damage caused by the explosion.

But council planning chiefs say the scheme would actually “result in a significant
improvement in the visual appearance of the Auchenblae Conservation Area”.

And they accept that efforts to establish another hotel on the land have fallen flat, with no operators coming forward in the 13 years since it was destroyed.

Let there be light at modern Midmar home

Richard Forbes, who lives at Midmar near Inverurie, wants to build a modern family home in a field next to Stony Burn.

The home would be a few miles away from Inverurie, and accessed via a single-track road. Image: MGA Architecture

Only the stone remains of an old dyke are still on the site.

The home would be built over it. The rest of the land, which is owned by farmer Stuart Simpson, would be used for agricultural purposes.

The dining and living area would benefit from plenty of natural light in the summer. Image: MGA Architecture

The southern wing would house public spaces like the kitchen, dining and living areas.

Huge windows will allow for the “maximum penetration” of sunlight.

There would be a wood-burning stove in the centre of the open-plan living area. Image: MGA Architecture

Modern Wellington House office block faces demolition

Knight Property Group spent £6 million on building the Wellington House complex at Altens in 2007.

Bosses said the 20,385sq ft pavilion “offered the ultimate in flexibility for any incoming tenant”.

We reported the news when a tenant was confirmed in 2008. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

The following year, the firm landed a 10-year deal for an oil and gas firm to take on the building.

Knight bosses lauded the “very successful project”, which was snapped up by a “major player”.

Knight Property Group sang the praises of Wellington House when it opened.

By the time the lease expired in 2018, a lot had changed.

Three years before that, Petrofac paid £5.5 million to get out of its agreement at Quattro House next door.

Wellington House, with Quattro House in the background. Image: Google Maps

And with the crippling effect of the downturn in full force, Knight has struggled to secure any replacement occupiers.

Ryden released this video as they tried to attract interest in the complex:

And now, just 16 years after millions was spent on its creation, it could be torn down.

Knight is seeking the council’s consent to demolish Wellington House to make way for a new HGV workshop and office on the site.

This design image shows how the workshop would be built next to the Tesla factory at the industrial estate, with Wellington House making way for a car park after demolition. Image: Space Solutions

Kintore church taking over former furniture shop

The Moar for your Home furniture shop in Kintore announced its closure in January.

Moar for your Home on Forest Road in Kintore. Image: Google Maps

It came after the owners decided to “enjoy some leisure time” after 18 years at the helm.

In recent weeks, the final items have been sold off at rock-bottom prices.

Now Cults-based Hillview Community Church wants Aberdeenshire Council’s blessing to convert the Forest Road building.

Good afternoon folks! We start off the year with the news that as of the 31st of January 2023. Moar House Furnishers &…

Posted by Moar For Your Home on Tuesday, 10 January 2023

There are two separate ground floor sales areas at the moment.

Under the proposals, one would become a welcome area while the other would be used for religious assemblies.

Who are Hillview Community Church?

Hillview Community Church has its roots in America but has had a north-east presence since the late 1970s – when the oil boom brought many workers across from the States.

It describes itself as “a family made up of men and women, girls and boys who know we don’t have it all together – far from it!”

On Tuesday, bookings opened for our joint Hillview and Kintore Away Day. If you missed the email you can still sign up…

Posted by Hillview Community Church on Thursday, 9 February 2023

Last summer, church leaders offered free sessions to help people deal with their household finances.

The “vision” section of its website describes ambitions to establish new congregations elsewhere in the north-east.

Banchory retail park plan APPROVED

Meanwhile, the prayers of many in Banchory were answered a few days ago when high-profile plans to transform shopping in the town were given the go-ahead.

A new Lidl, M&S Food and Home Bargains will all be built in a field to the rear of the town’s Tesco.

A meeting will take place on plans for a new Banchory retail park
Councillors have paved the way for a new Banchory retail park, which will also boast a Starbucks drive-thru and garden centre. Image: Ireland Design Architects

Developers say construction could start by the end of the year, with the first shoppers visiting next summer.

Read more here.

Empty Aberdeen beachfront restaurant could be extended

A prominent empty building along the Granite City seafront could be extended amid growing hopes it could soon be brought back to life.

The building is just next to The Range. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

In 2021, plans to turn the former Sizzling Wok Chinese restaurant into a new sports bar were approved by the council.

That proposal was devised by Aberdeen-based Skippers Sports Lounge, a company formed in May 2021 but which was dissolved last October.

Now, Edinburgh-based Gorkem Gorur is serving up fresh plans for the Queens Links Leisure Park unit.

The building could be brought back to life with extra seating. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

He wants to extend it onto the pavement outside, to create space for 10 new tables – which would mean 40 extra customers.

Scroll back and forth to see the possible changes:

It would bring the footprint of the diner to the same point along the stretch as the Pizza Hut next door.

Could Aberdeen diners soon have another option at the beach? Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Do you think Aberdeen beach needs more dining options? Let us know in our comments section below

Office needs showers as workers take to bikes

The WI Talbot chartered surveyors in Aberdeen’s west end want to transform the listed building they work in to allow sweaty cyclists a place to shower.

The firm’s base is at 8 Albert Street. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The premises dates back to 1849 and was designed as a home by Archibald Simpson.

Now the owners are seeking permission to transform the basement of the historic building.

The showers are needed at a time of changing commuter habits. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

They say the move is needed “to accommodate changing modes of travel and green transport”.

In simpler terms, they want a place for staff who cycle to work to have a shower after arriving.

Cyclists might be able to freshen up upon arrival. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

At the same time, toilets would be refurbished and a “breakout area” would be formed in a disused storage room to “improve staff mental well-being in the workplace”.

It comes amid ongoing efforts to make Aberdeen a more bike-friendly city.

But those aims could face something of a tough road ahead: one campaigner recently likened cycling down Union Street to being chased by a truck-driving Terminator.

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

Mill of Foveran plans

Newburgh garage

Esslemont Avenue latest

Drumtochty plans approved 

Midmar home

Wellington House demolition 

Kintore church plans

Banchory retail park approved

Aberdeen beach restaurant 

Shower plans at Aberdeen office