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Plans to save Aberdeen golf course amid drought worries and Kintore shop becoming church

The Murcar golf course has been hit by recent unusually dry summers.

There are plans to prevent the lack of rain harming the greens at Aberdeen's Murcar Links golf course.
There are plans to prevent the lack of rain harming the greens at Aberdeen's Murcar Links golf course. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

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

Our latest instalment comes as we near the official start of summer – with many of us looking forward to some sunshine.

But not everyone is excited about the prospect of scorching temperatures…

Bosses at Murcar Links, a golf club along the Aberdeen coast, say unusually dry recent summers are putting their precious greens at risk.

And now they’ve formed plans to protect them from any further harm.

Elsewhere we feature plans at Kildrummy Estate and an Aberdeen mosque.

But we start with efforts to improve a plush property on one of the city’s most expensive streets.

New owner to move family into Rubislaw Den North mansion

The pink and grey “granite beauty” that is 26 Rubislaw Den North was built decades ago for one of the city’s most illustrious families.

Number 26 Rubislaw Den North has only changed hands three times since it was built in 1927.

The Esslemont family – famed for their luxury city centre department store – moved in in 1927.

The “art deco gem” was sold for £900,000 last April, after initially being marketed for £1 million.

Owner George Stewart is now seeking permission for an extension at the four-bedroom west end house.

The extension would create more kitchen space. Image: Brown and Brown architects

Architects Brown and Brown say Mr Stewart wants to turn the C-listed property into a “multi-generational home for himself, partner, son and his family including dogs”.

The extension would improve upon the “inadequate” kitchen currently in place, which isn’t fit for “the intended number of occupants”.

Designers say there would be a clear distinction between the old and new parts of the home. Image: Brown and Brown architects

Cults loft to become extra bedroom

The owner of Gavenne, on Aberdeen’s Cults Avenue, is also rolling out plans to expand their home.

This home also only recently changed hands. Image: Google Maps

Oil boss Safhuan Almassraf has lodged proposals to extend and convert his loft space to form extra first floor accommodation.

It comes after the property was sold for £280,000 last December.

This blueprint shows the extension plans. Image: Mark Lane

Mosque to make more space religious ritual washing

An Aberdeen mosque is launching expansion plans too…

The Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre has been based in a former school on Frederick Street for more than a year.

AMIC set up the city's Central Mosque in the former Frederick Street School in 2021. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson.
AMIC set up the city’s Central Mosque in the former Frederick Street School in 2021. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson.

Muslim leaders say that, while their important activities can be carried out in the 120-year-old building, the layout can be “constraining” at times.

Some changes have now been put forward to make it more “functional”, creating “an environment more befitting of a place of worship”.

Imam Ibrahim Alwawi said the council would be backing the Central Mosque to succeed if the rules were changed. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.
Imam Ibrahim Alwawi of the Central Mosque. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.

Papers sent to the council explain: “This layout broadly suits the mosque users, with separate Brothers’ and Sisters’ prayer rooms located in the large open plan spaces on ground and first floor.

“There are some areas which have demonstrated, over the past 18 months of use, operational constraints for the users.”

Worshippers at Aberdeen Central Mosque are resorting to parking illegally as they rush to Friday lunchtime prayers. Council bosses are looking at making parking in the neighbouring Frederick Street multi-storey free to help. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson.
A new entrance would be created facing the car park. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson.

Leaders are now seeking consent to build a new side extension to increase the size of the washing area for male users, who are currently crowding around basins in the toilets.

This will be used for wudhu, the ritual performed by Muslims before prayer where faces, hands, arms and feet are washed.

This shows how the extension would look. Image: David Murray Associates

What other changes are proposed?

They also want to create a new entrance to the east of the building, facing the Frederick Street car park.

And new timber doors would be built for both men and women’s entrances.

A former WC area and cleaners store will be converted into a new washing room, for the cleaning and dressing of bodies prior to burial.

A worshipper during Eid Al Fitr celebrations at AMIC Central Mosque. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

New doors will be formed leading to the prayer rooms “to reflect the importance of these rooms”.

Modern toilet cubicles would also be removed to create a new wudhu area for women, and a creche would be added elsewhere.

Changes at Deeside care home

Aberdeenshire Council wants to create a new day centre at Allachburn Care Home on Aboyne’s Low Road.

The staffing team at Allachburn Care Home. Image: Aberdeenshire Council.

Blueprints show how the centre would have its own sensory room, kitchen and office.

Kildrummy Estate plans approved

Earlier this year, Planning Ahead detailed a string of changes proposed by the new American owners of Kildrummy Estate near Alford.

The 5,600-acre Donside expanse was bought by multi-millionaire socialites Chris and Camille Bentley in 2020 for £11 million.

The ruins of Kildrummy Castle form part of the estate. Image: Savills

The 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.

Kildrummy Castle dates back to the 13th century. Image: DC Thomson

As part of a major project to enhance their new home, the couple sought permission to create a new access road as the existing one is next to a risky bend on the A97.

They also wanted permission to carry out repairs to the boundary wall, and to erect fencing beside the A97 route, at the eastern boundary of the castle.

The hedge seen here off the A97 road has already been removed to spare the wall further damage. Image: LDN Architects

There was some concern about a hedge being removed without permission.

But the applicants argued that the unauthorised work was undertaken to ensure it took place before bird nesting season.

And, with a few tweaks, the plans have now been approved.

New public path to admire stunning coastal scenery from

There’s been a lot of attention on Pennan lately due to the 40th anniversary of the movie Local Hero, which was partly filmed in the seaside village.

But neighbouring Crovie is just as scenic, and a tourist attraction in its own right.

Crovie is nestled a few miles along the coast from Pennan. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Now farmer William Geddes has lodged plans to create a new public footpath through fields overlooking the bay, which would connect to the existing network in the area.

The new addition would stretch as far as Collie Head.

Kintore furniture shop to become church despite noisy hymn fears

Plans to transform a Kintore furniture shop into a church, revealed in Planning Ahead in April, have now been agreed.

But, to start with, the applicants and their next door neighbours weren’t exactly singing from the same hymn sheet.

The Moar furniture shop in Kintore. Image: Google Maps

Cults-based Hillview Community Church began eyeing up the site after the Moar for your Home store closed in January.

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

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

Immediate neighbours Ian and Rusty Waldram raised his concerns with church leaders though.

In a letter to Aberdeenshire Council, Mr Waldram explained that he initially had worries about “regular noise from worship music”.

However, he was assured there would be no additional wall openings created, and told “specific neighbour complaints” would be taken seriously.

Mr Waldram ended up supporting the plans.

Next Sunday, 30 April, we're having a New to Kintore Lunch. If you consider yourself "new", "newish", or have never been…

Posted by Kintore Community Church on Sunday, 23 April 2023

Plans approved – but rules placed on music

Others, however, lodged objections due to concerns about parking when the church is in session.

Despite that, planning chiefs have now given the church conversion their blessing.

But they stipulate that amplified music should only be played between 9am and 1pm on Sundays, and evening events are limited to six per year – between 5pm and 9pm.

Officers also carried out a study confirming there to be sufficient parking spaces in the vicinity of the building.

Do you think the plans should have been approved? Let us know in our comments section below

Plans to save the course at Aberdeen’s Murcar Links

Drier, warmer summers can be good for those of us who enjoy topping up our tan and trips to the beach…

But the conditions in recent years, a consequence of climate change, have caused havoc for the environment.

And the effects are being felt at Aberdeen’s 125-year-old Murcar Links golf course.

Why is Murcar Links important to Aberdeen?

The club is said to have “established itself as a championship links of some renown in the finest of Scottish traditions”.

Papers sent to the council explain: “It features in the top hundred golf courses in the United Kingdom and is in the Visit Scotland top 40 ‘Great Scottish Links Collection’.”

Over the years it has staged a host of top tournaments, and continues to attract scores of putting-mad tourists to the north-east.

Angus Carrick, Scottish amateur champion, at Murcar Golf Links in 2021. Image: Scottish Golf

Bouncing back from the pandemic, it has recently welcomed golfers from America, Australia and all over Europe.

Advance bookings show that should increase further in 2023.

What problems could dry conditions at Murcar Links cause?

But this “essential” income could be put at risk if the green isn’t kept in pristine condition that “meets the exacting standards of golf’s governing bodies”.

Management say that, in recent years, the greenkeeping team has been battling against “changing weather patterns” leaving the turf much drier than it should be.

Action from the 36-hole qualifying for the Scottish Amateur Matchplay Championships at Murcar Links in 2021. Some Aberdeen landmarks are visible in the background. Image: Wullie Marr / DCT Media

They add: “The reduction in rainfall has required more and more use of the antiquated and failing irrigation system.

“The existing system is over 40 years old and has been drawing water from a burn which traverses the Strabathie course.”

They say silt and “contaminants” in the water have eroded the pipes, valves and sprinkler heads – making the system “extremely unreliable”.

Some keen golfers took to the Murcar Links course in Aberdeen on New Years Day in 2022. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

Now, the club is teeing up plans to change all that…

What’s the solution to summer drought fears at course?

They say the “only” proper solution to the worsening crisis is to install a new computer-controlled irrigation system.

The advanced system should keep the greens lush for 20 years.

It would be served by a water tank measuring 2m wide and 3m high near the greenkeepers sheds.

A design drawing showing the scale of the new tank at Aberdeen’s Murcar Links course. Image: Murcar Links

Management hope to start work in September, and to have the project completed within three months.

Planning documents say the health of the wider north-east economy could depend on it.

They state: “The spending power of these golf visitors also contributes hugely to the economies of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, in all sorts of ways.”

Solar panels at £500,000 Old Aberdeen home

Finally, we have plans to harness some of that excess sunshine to help the environment.

Martin Insley, who lives on one of Aberdeen’s most picturesque streets, wants to install seven solar panels at his property.

The impressive granite 107 High Street building is on the left of the historic highway. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The 107 High Street building, which was sold for £495,000 last March, is B-listed and part of the Old Aberdeen Conservation Area.

It’s also the former home of famed Scottish ornithologist William MacGillivray.

The nature expert has a species of warbler named after him. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson
The street hasn’t changed much since the academic lived there in the 1800s. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Heritage buffs are known to be picky about changes to properties like this one, with a recent application for new windows at a home nearby on the Chanonry quashed.

But these panels would be positioned out of view, on a rear extension.

The solar panels won’t be visible from the High Street. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Papers sent to the council say: “The works do not affect the main characteristics of the building and would be of minimal visual impact.”

Catch up on more of our planning round-ups:

The abandoned Aberdeen warehouse that could soon be turned into trendy new offices, along with Kincardine Castle home improvement plans

The owners of historic Balfluig Castle, near Alford, fighting plans for a “new village” they say would ruin the character of the grand family home their dad rescued from ruin

We revealed the homes poised to be demolished as work on congestion-busting Berryden roadworks approaches

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

Rubislaw Den North extension

Work at Cults home

Mosque changes

Aboyne care home

Kildrummy Castle latest

Crovie path

Kintore furniture shop

New system at Murcar Links in Aberdeen

Old Aberdeen solar panels