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Battle to keep Banchory beer garden and new Stonehaven town centre shops planned

One objector has complained about "rowdy drinkers" outside the Burnett Arms.

A row is brewing over a beer garden in the centre of Banchory.
A row is brewing over a beer garden in the centre of Banchory. Image: Ben Hendry/Gemma Day

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

For many of us, a very sunny June has provided plenty of chances to enjoy some outdoor hospitality.

But Banchory residents could be about to lose one town centre beer garden, with the Burnett Arms’ addition now at risk.

While some locals want to keep it, others have slammed it for bringing “rowdy drinkers” onto the High Street…

This week’s instalment also features a disagreement among neighbours on one of Aberdeen’s most expensive streets.

But we start with plans to keep an Aberdeenshire hidden gem safe from harm…

Beefed up measures to keep vandals away from ruined castle

Ellon Castle Gardens site is described by tourism bigwigs as a “magical cathedral of nature”.

The cherished spot dates back to the 15th century, and boasts a unique collection of ancient English yews.

Journalist Gayle Ritchie joined the volunteers at Ellon Castle Gardens in 2020. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

After lying derelict for decades, the forgotten landmark was gifted to the community.

But in recent years, it has sadly become a hotspot for vandalism.

Ellon Castle during sunny weather. Image: Fiona Leslie Stuartfield

Now, almost 10 years on from assuming control of the tranquil spot, the locals who run it want to tighten up security.

Retrospective permission is being sought for a 2.4m fence needed to create a “secure garden compound”.

The beauty spot needs extra protection. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Plans have also been put forward to relocate storage containers into this newly fenced-off area.

Meanwhile, the volunteers want to install ground-mounted solar panels, and a shipping container will be altered to form a new ticket office.

Clothing firm hopes to have new flat plans all sewn up

The Harley of Scotland knitwear shop in Peterhead wants to take over two flats above its premises in the town centre.

The shop on Peterhead’s Queen Street. Image: Google Maps

The firm, which dates back to 1929, aims to turn the properties at 44-46 Queen Street into offices and storage areas.

Dangerous canopy to be taken down from Torry school

A 100-year-old canopy will be removed from an Aberdeen school despite the protests of historians.

The council tendered plans to carry out the work at the front of Tullos Primary School, along with the less controversial suggestion of replacing windows.

The rusty canopy is now said to pose something of a risk. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

Education chiefs said the steel canopy, part of the original design of the listed 1930s building, has become a hazard to pupils.

Planning papers state: “It is in such a condition that it now poses a health and safety risk to members of the public.

“The structure of the canopy has started to deteriorate, and rust has started to take hold.”

The large school on Girdleness Road is almost 100 years old. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

What did historians say?

But the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland was left appalled.

They said the canopy is “integral to the building and should be made safe, repaired and brought up to standard”.

Actress Joyce Falconer is a past pupil at the school. She revisited it on a tour of Torry ahead of appearing in the Aberdeen pantomime in 2021. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Dr Bill Harrison agreed, saying the feature was a “key component of the visionary design of the school by city architect Ogg Allan”.

He added: “Removing the canopy will have a severe negative impact on the appearance and historical significance of the building.”

Canopy canned due to ‘significant disrepair’

But planning officers have now rubber-stamped the plans to demolish the weathered structure.

They say its removal “would not detract from the special interest of the listed building”.

A report acknowledges that the shelter is an “original feature”, but is no longer of use in helping with outdoor learning due to being “in a state of significant disrepair”.

Woodside warehouse could be revived as car wash

Over on the other side of the city, a derelict former electronics shop could become a new car wash business.

The building was the base of Grampian Electronic Components Ltd for years, and then operated as a second hand shop before falling empty several years ago. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The inside of 19-25 Don Street in Woodside would be transformed to make room for six bays for cars to be valeted.

At the rear, there would be three wash bays and room for a further seven valet cars to be parked.

The old warehouse is on the corner of Don Place and Don Street. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson
The wooden shopfront would be removed and replaced with roller shutters. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The plans have been lodged by Israeli businessman David Dadon.

It comes after the graffiti-strewn building was advertised to let.

The overgrown space at the rear could soon be tidied up. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Could Poundstretcher unit be divided?

Just around the corner, developers Aberdeen Retail Assets Ltd want to open a new workshop/warehouse.

The firm is seeking permission to carve out the separate space in the lower ground floor of the Poundstretcher at 390 Great Northern Road.

There’s space going spare in the lower ground floor of the shop. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The space in question is currently used for storage by the discount retailer.

However the council is demanding that noise studies be carried out first.

Flower display to add splash of colour to city centre

Plans to string up a colourful display of illuminated flowers on Aberdeen’s Bon Accord Terrace have been approved.

Aberdeen Inspired put forward the proposal in April, saying the lights would bring traders a welcome boost.

Bon Accord Terrace display
Aberdeen Inspired hopes to bring more visitors to the west end area of Union Street with the eye-catching floral display. Image: Aberdeen Inspired.

Council planning chiefs have now given them the go-ahead.

The display will use the same fittings as a colourful array of umbrellas previously dangled over the road.

Neighbours at odds over extension on exclusive Aberdeen street

A few weeks ago, Planning Ahead detailed extension proposals at a huge home on one of Aberdeen’s most expensive streets.

The new owner of 26 Rubislaw Den North, which was sold for £900,000 last year, wants to move his family in with him.

To make extra room, George Stewart is seeking permission to build an extension with a new kitchen in the garden.

Rare gem: Number 26 Rubislaw Den North has only changed hands a few times since it was built in 1927.

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

But next door neighbour James Halliday isn’t impressed.

Would kitchen extension be ‘wholly alien’ to area?

He said the addition would be “excessive”, and look out of place.

Mr Halliday, in his letter of objection to Aberdeen City Council, states: “The proposed structure is wholly alien to the characteristic styles of the group of listed properties
on Rubislaw Den North.”

This design image shows how the extension would look. Image: Brown and Brown architects

James Webster lives on Morningfield Road, with his property backing onto 26 Rubislaw Den North.

He claims the extension is of an “extraordinary” size, and would not suit the C-listed 1927 home it’s attached to.

And real estate company director Tim Williams, who also lives on Morningfield Road, warned the council that approving the plan could set a risky precedent.

Does anyone support the extension?

In the last few days, several letters of support have been submitted.

Businessman George Tester, who lives at Drumgarth, says he stayed on Rubislaw Den North for many years – and agreed that kitchens in the historic homes aren’t up to scratch “in today’s world”.

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

He said: “It is really nice to see some good planning and modernisation being put into these old houses.”

Gardener Ian McKenna said he has worked at the property for some time, and believes the extension would fit in nicely.

Steven Keenon said the changes would help make for “a wonderful family home”, and tradesman Bruce Fraser also argued in its favour.

Council offices in Stonehaven could become houses – and shops

Plans have been lodged that could see two new shops open up in the centre of Stonehaven.

Louise Milne and Caroline McCabe have put forward the proposals for the former Aberdeenshire Council housing department offices at 16-22 Allardice Street.

The old offices in the town centre were put up for sale as local authority staff moved out. Image: Google Maps

It comes after the site was put up for sale.

They want to turn the building into a pair of townhouses with shops on the ground floor.

The nature of the stores would be confirmed at a later date.

The rear of the building faces towards the town’s famous beach. Image: Google Maps

Blueprints indicate each of the three-bedroom townhouses would have their own balconies looking out to sea, along with three parking spaces apiece.

The shops would face onto Allardice Street, with living areas for each property behind them on the ground floor.

This blueprint shows how the revamped ground floor would look. Image: Crawford architecture

In 2021, plans to turn former council offices on Arduthie Road into 16 flats were approved.  

Battle over Banchory beer garden

Bosses at the Burnett Arms Hotel in the heart of Banchory are seeking the council’s consent to keep a beer garden at the front of the venue.

Company director Munish Dheer is now applying retrospectively for the addition, which has been a feature on the High Street for years now.

During the Covid pandemic, rules around outdoor areas was relaxed as venues struggled to stay afloat.

If that permission is denied now, it will have to go.

The beer garden at the Burnett Arms has stirred emotions in Banchory. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

And locals are making their thoughts known on the Banchory beer garden.

Is beer garden bringing ‘rowdy drinkers’ into centre of Banchory?

Ranald McDonald, who lives on Watson Street, says the al fresco area is taking up much-needed parking spaces.

In a letter of objection, he added: “Currently there are only 15 spaces available, including one disabled bay.

“As a result of this, hotel patrons are often forced to park illegally on Mount Street and the surrounding area – vans cause the most nuisance and danger to traffic and pedestrians.”

He also blasted the “rowdy drinkers” who visit the spot.

The beer garden has been blasted for taking up parking spaces. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Loss of disabled parking space a particular concern

Jim Laird shared those concerns.

He wrote: “Ridiculous that they have taken seven parking spaces away for a
seldom used beer garden.

“Interesting that they’re applying for permission 30 months after they took it upon themselves to just do it.”

Beer gardens have become a normal part of going out. Image: Shutterstock

Lynn Murphy, who lives in West Lodge at Crathes Castle, objected as the loss of the disabled space at the front has caused some particular problems.

She said: “The last time a friend of mine in a wheelchair visited she had to be taken in via the kitchen.”

Do you think the beer garden should be allowed to stay? Let us know in our comments section below

‘The town needs a bit of atmosphere’

But Ryan Milne argued: “Banchory needs more beer gardens for the nice summer ahead.”

Liam Thomson, who lives on the High Street, added: “The town needs a bit of atmosphere. Plenty parking spaces around.”

The outdoor area is less popular on cloudy days… Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Banchory Community Council could see both sides of the debate…

Their “neutral” response agreed that the town centre is “not blessed with a lot of places to sit outside and eat”.

They added: “It is on the ‘sunny side of the street’ and so does benefit from this type of business when the climate allows.

“We want to see local businesses do well and think this has potential to add some vibrancy to the High Street.”

How the front of the Burnett Arms Hotel looked before the beer garden was erected. Image: DC Thomson

Is retrospective plea for permission ‘discourteous’?

They also welcome the idea of removing the parking spaces, as people driving into them would have to cross a “busy pavement”.

“Removing this hazard is welcome,” they say.

But the group takes a dim view of retrospective planning applications.

The response concludes: “We see them as presumptuous and a discourtesy to the community.”

The council will decide on the fate of the Banchory beer garden in the weeks ahead.

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

Ellon Castle Gardens

Peterhead flats

Torry school canopy 

Woodside car wash

New unit at Poundstretcher

Flower display backed

Spat over west end extension in Aberdeen

New Stonehaven shops plan

Banchory beer garden application