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Aberdeen neighbours fighting Caribbean takeaway boss who has ‘invaded garden to BBQ meals’

There are complaints about the pong affecting people on George Street.

There's a new Caribbean takeaway on George Street
The new Caribbean takeaway has caused a stir. Image: Michael McCosh/DC Thomson

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

This week’s instalment features a row over a new Caribbean takeaway on Aberdeen’s George Street.

We also have an update on plans for the Abergeldie Estate, after last week revealing new owner Alastair Storey’s vision for the £23 million expanse.

Now, a woodland charity is standing in the way of plans to run a commercial hunting enterprise from a former farm on the site.

But first, a new coffee shop has come a step closer to opening on Union Street.

Black Sheep Coffee plans approved

The trendy Black Sheep Coffee chain has been given the go-ahead to continue its caffeine-fuelled expansion by opening up in Aberdeen city centre.

Last month, we reported on the firm’s plans to take over the former Caffe Nero on the junction with Market Street.

The former Caffe Nero building on Union Street in Aberdeen
The building has been stripped out since Caffe Nero closed in May. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

It appears to be part of a campaign, with Black Sheep approaching landlords to outbid Caffe Nero on several premises.

The upstart company has flagged their rival’s financial woes, saying its multiple takeovers are helping to secure jobs.

A black sheep coffee to-go cup next to a crumpled Caffe Nero to-go cup
Newcomer Black Sheep Coffee is ousting Caffe Nero from various high streets. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Aberdeen planning bosses have now cleared the way for the new Granite Mile branch, just a short stroll away from its recently opened Union Square cafe.

They say the plans for the 1929 Art Deco building would “preserve its special character”.

New path for workers to walk to Deeside estate rather than taking car

Community champions want to link the scenic Glen Tanar estate to the nearby town of Aboyne with a new two-mile path.

The Aboyne Paths and Tracks Group hope for permission to create a “safe, accessible and traffic-free” route between the community and the area of Caledonian pine forest.

The Glen Tanar Estate
The Glen Tanar Estate. Image: George Hay

Forms submitted to Aberdeenshire Council say that it would be of use both for the small community who live at Glen Tanar and those who work on the estate.

Documents explain: “It is also a thriving working estate, with forestry, farming, holiday cottages, visitor centre and a nationally recognised wedding venue.

“To support this wide range of economic activities, many staff live on the estate and travel to Aboyne to access services, shopping and schools.

“Others live in Aboyne and travel to Glen Tanar to work. ”

A red line on a map showing the new path beside South Deeside Road
The red line shows the new path. Image: The Aboyne Paths and Tracks Group

They say having a path would help “encourage more sustainable active travel”.

What’s more, it could fill a “missing link” in the network between Aboyne and Dinnet – including parts of the Deeside Way.

They add: “At present, walking or cycling is extremely hazardous along the narrow busy
B976 – with blind bends and 60mph traffic.”

A recent survey indicated that 420 out of 422 locals asked were in favour of the new path.

Huntly dentist taking over former pharmacy

The principal dentist at Huntly Dental Practice, Navin Aziz, has lodged plans to expand into the former pharmacy next door.

Duke Street, Huntly
The dentist could soon have more room. Image: Google Maps
A drawing showing what the street could look like after the changes
This shows how the street could soon look. Image: John Wink Design

Blueprints show how transforming the old Reid Flory pharmacy would create two more surgeries.

Pharmacist Mr Flory was the last provost of Huntly, between 1973 and 1975, after serving on the local council.

Reid Flory
Reid Flory. Image: DC Thomson

Derelict farm to be demolished for four homes

Farm buildings near Inverurie could be torn down to make way for four houses.

The Tocher complex, known as The Drier Site, was recently inspected.

And architects say the existing sheds and drying equipment are all in “poor structural and operational condition”.

The Drier Site
The site that could soon be cleared. Image: Google Maps

They are deemed to be “far from suitable for reinstatement as farm buildings or for conversion to habitable accommodation”.

And, with upgrades a financial impossibility, Stirling-based owners R&N Barclay want to build four homes there instead.

They say each home will “look to take advantage of the the local climate” with huge windows for solar gain, renewable heating systems and solar panels.

A map showing the plans for the home
The homes plan. Image: John Wink Design

Fears for ancient woodland as millionaire new owner makes mark on Abergeldie Estate

Last week, we revealed that Fyvie-born catering magnate had bought the £23 million Abergeldie Estate, between Balmoral and Birkhall in Royal Deeside.

Our round-up detailed his plans for new houses with stunning views of Lochnagar, and plans to start commercial hunting there.

This will mean the end of the Royal Family’s 175-year-old exclusive lease on the land.

Clachanturn Farm on Abergeldie Estate
Plans to enhance Abergeldie Estate have raised the ire of environmentalists. Image: WCP Architects

As part of this, Mr Storey aims to transform Clachanturn Farm into estate accommodation, from where hunting expeditions would be launched.

But the new buildings needed, and a new access track, are to be built in an are classed as “ancient woodland” – normally given protection from such development.

A report states that two trees have already been felled on health and safety grounds, but no more will need to be taken down.

And the road would be built in a way which “avoids damage to roots”.

A colour coded map demonstrating changes to the area
This shows how developers would like to transform the area. Image: Astell Associates

Why is tree protection charity opposed to the work?

But the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity is now standing in Mr Storey’s way.

One of their main aims is ensuring no further loss of ancient woodland, and they fear the work could still have disastrous consequences.

Campaigner Nicola Moses, from the “woods under threat” team, says it could “risk deterioration” of the woods.

Abergeldie Estate
Abergeldie Estate spans more than 11,000 acres.

As well as the trees already chopped down, they think the scheme would result in “noise, light and dust pollution”, which could “threaten the trees”.

The charity cites recent Scottish Government planning rules which advise against proposals which could cause “any loss of ancient woodlands”

Plea to consider birds and reptiles living in Cairngorms

The campaigner concludes: “This application is for an access track and vehicle storage workshop within an area of long-established woodland.

“Development in this woodland can lead to long-term changes in species composition,
particularly ground flora and sensitive fauna, i.e. nesting birds, mammals and reptiles.

“Adverse impacts would occur as a result of the removal of the woodland, which contains valuable habitat, to make way for the delivery of this proposal.”

The beautiful Cairngorm countryside
There are concerns for Cairngorm wildlife. Image: Fraser and Mulligan

George Street Caribbean takeaway causes concern

A new Caribbean-themed takeaway in Aberdeen is proving controversial.

Applicant Simon Arthurs, of Nemzblendz Limited, has already started operating the new venue at 693 George Street.

Its menu offers staples like jerk chicken, rice and peas, goat curry and plantain.

Barbecue Jerk Chicken on a wire rack
Barbecue Jerk Chicken is a Caribbean specialty. Image: PA

The businessman says he was unaware he would need permission for changes to the former Shannon’s Locks and Beauty salon next to the Rowlands Pharmacy.

The unit, near the junction with Powis Place, has been through a few changes since the Isabelle Randall bridal shop shut.

An apologetic Mr Arthurs told the council: “I don’t want to unintentionally be in breach of anything.

“I am trying my best to be above board with everything needed.”

A view of George street, across the road is the vacant computer shop, JFM Hair & Beauty and the Caribbean takeaway
The George Street takeaway specialises in Caribbean dishes. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

However, if neighbours have their way, all the money spent on renovating the premises may have been wasted.

‘There is even a BBQ set up in the back garden’

Aberdeen University professor William Naphy is among those urging the council to refuse permission.

The bothered boffin lamented “overpowering” cooking smells reaching his flat, claiming the Caribbean takeaway has no “adequate extraction”.

He added: “The premises is not designed for industrial cooking.

“There is even a BBQ set up in the back garden, despite objections, for food preparation.

“Also, despite no change of use permitted, the shop has been in active business, selling food, for at least a fortnight if not longer.”

William Naphy holding a book and leaning against a wall at Aberdeen University
William Naphy at Aberdeen University. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Is George Street Caribbean takeaway breaching ‘basic health and safety’?

Calsayseat Road resident Ben Coutts also points out the “health and safety issue”.

He said: “The new tenants have taken advantage of ‘right of access’ to the rear garden which is lovingly, maintained by tenants at No 1.

“Further, there is a food prep burner situated within the garden of No1. I imagine this to be a basic health and safety issue.”

Powis junction, where the George Street Caribbean takeaway is
The George Street Caribbean takeaway is on the Powis junction. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Zach O’Donnell, who also lives nearby, says the food vendor is “disturbing a quiet neighbourhood”, while Flavio Tomasella is worried about rats and foxes now being attracted to the “wholly residential area”.

Upstairs neighbour was taken by surprise

Nancy Irwin lives directly above 693 George Street.

She says she only learned about the takeaway when the owner “started cooking with a BBQ in our garden”.

She adds: “He has no permission to use our garden, only the right of access.

“My property has been filled with the smell of cooking. It is a nuisance.

“This is not food safe. How is it possible to handle food cooked in a garden then transported through doors to food safety standards?

“The garden is right of access only and not part of his tenancy. Therefore the BBQ will have to be removed. It is not reasonable nor appropriate to use this as a cooking method.”

‘This invasion is an affront’

The resident concludes: “I have owned this property for 14 years one of the joys of the property are the neighbours, we have got along really well, maintained the property and worked together.

“It has been very respectful.

“The garden owned by myself and the upper floor flat is manicured and well loved.

“It is an affront to be invaded by a tenant with blatant disregard to the environment, the smell, and nuiance he is creating for others.”

The Caribbean takeaway on George Street
The takeaway boasts of “real home-cooked food”. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

What does the environmental health department think of all this?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re not chuffed.

They say the premises doesn’t have the “necessary” ventilation to prevent odours reaching neighbours, and action needs to be taken to limit noise.

That means the building is “unsuitable” for use as a takeaway as things stand.

Waste officials also object due to the lack of separate bins.

The Caribbean takeaway on George Street
Upstairs neighbours have voiced displeasure. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

A decision will be made on the application in due course.

Not everyone is miffed though, the business has notched up a few positive reviews on JustEat – with the goat praised as “tender and delicious”.

Another happy customer said she hopes the diner “will be there for a long time”.

And George Street resident Michael Middleton is asking the council to approve it, saying the Caribbean takeaway is “great for the area”.

The vacant former computer shop "computer warehouse" on George Street in Aberdeen
Mr Middleton mentioned the “derelict” former computer shop at 679 George Street, which “has been closed for near 10 years”, as he hailed the effort to rejuvenate the area. Image: Auction House Scotland

Meanwhile, there’s another row at the other end of George Street…

Meanwhile, at the bottom end of the street, another spat is brewing.

Last month, Planning Ahead revealed proposals to turn a former Ladbrokes into a new Merkur gaming arcade.

The former bookies on George Street Aberdeen
The former bookies on George Street. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Bosses insist it won’t be a stereotypical gambling den, claiming they offer “exciting ‘slot gaming’ entertainment”.

Management are unhappy their “adult gaming centres” are sometimes mistaken for betting shops.

And they hail their track record at bringing vacant city centre units back to life, helping to boost footfall.

George Street in Aberdeen
George Street has become bookended by planning rows. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

However, the 24-hour nature of the proposed business has riled neighbour Chris Sherrit.

He has written to the council bemoaning the anticipated “noise pollution”, saying he already puts up with a lot from voices, cars and seagulls.

Mr Sherrit adds: “Adding in a 24-hours adult gaming centre will for sure make that worse.”

George Street in Aberdeen
Residents are battling to see the plans rejected. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

And Glynnis Hutchison accuses Merkur chiefs of trying to hide the “24-hour” aspect by not making it a prominent part of their application.

‘Grave concerns’ about late night noise

She states: “I would not have such grave concerns if the premises did not operate when most people are trying to sleep.

“My sleep is often disturbed by the voices of people walking home from pubs and clubs up until just after 3am, especially at weekends.

“This also disturbs the gulls which are nesting nearby and they start screeching very loudly.”

Someone dealing out chips in a casino
Merkur took over the former Rainbow casino in Aberdeen recently. image: Merkur Casino UK

She also worries that the doorway could be used as a smoking shelter, and raised concerns that down-on-their-luck punters might cause trouble after “losing a lot of money on a slot machine”.

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

Black Sheep Coffee latest 

Glen Tanar path 

Huntly dentist 

Farm could become homes

Abergeldie Estate latest

George Street Caribbean takeaway spat

Gaming centre row