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Meldrum House Hotel extension to lure more foodies while row rages over Ballater AirBnB

The new addition to the luxury Oldmeldrum hotel will mean specials guests can enjoy their meal alongside the chef.

Plans have been lodged to boost Meldrum House Hotel with an added extension.
The new addition would become part of the huge Meldrum House Hotel extension. Image: Mhorvan Park/DC Thomson

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

This week’s serving has a bit of a foodie theme, with developments lined up to tickle tastebuds across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

An extension is planned at Meldrum House Hotel, which would allow culinary connoisseurs the chance to dine with the luxury resort’s chef.

Elsewhere on the menu, popular proposals to do up Queen Victoria’s old picnic cottage at Braemar have been approved – so Deeside day-trippers could soon dine like royalty.

But first, bosses are fighting to keep a popular coffee kiosk along the Deeside Way…

Will it be full steam ahead for cafe next to historic railway line?

JJ’s Food and Drink Ltd is seeking permission to keep the popular Boxcar coffee and cake kiosk at the former Cults Railway Station.

The business sprang up during the pandemic, proving a hit with many using the Deeside Way for their daily spot of fresh air.

It’s been in place since, relying on temporary permission being renewed, and bosses now want to keep it there for another year.

The unit along the Deeside Way. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

However, neighbours in the Aberdeen suburb are pushing for the council to close it down.

‘Pong spoils enjoyment of my garden’

Ashfield Road resident Mayu Kano says the previous permission was granted for only 18 months, meaning the Boxcar should have shut on July 31.

Despairing Andrew Dale adds: “The increase in noise and disruption to what
was a quiet residential area cannot continue.

“The increase in traffic and cars on the site and surrounding streets is a real safety concern.

“The noise and smell that I have to put up with in my garden in unacceptable.”

Are you a fan of the makeshift coffee shop? Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Accusations of drinking and drug use

Karin Robertson, who lives nearby, says the seating is encouraging anti-social behaviour.

Her letter of objection claims: “The seating arrangements have led to instances of youths congregating in the evenings, engaging in alcohol consumption and drug use.”

Forest Road resident George Stewart even suggested the unit “disturbs the ambience of nature” along the route.

The current kiosk is supposed to only be in place while bigger plans to open up a cafe inside the former Cults Railway Station take shape. Image: Richard Dingwall architects

Meanwhile, owner John Mackenzie ultimately aims to transform Cults Railway Station itself into a cafe and bike repair shop.

We covered the project in our round-up in July, also detailing the many letters of support it has received.

Cults Railway Station
The station as it looks today. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

McDonald’s orders on hold at Aberdeen branch…

Kittybrewster burger fans may have to wait a few weeks for their next Big Mac.

By our calculations, the alterations cost about the same as 27,100 Big Macs. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

McDonald’s has closed until early October, while a £100,000 construction project to create a new waiting area takes place.

Kaimhill student flats in line for changes

Meanwhile, disused student flats near Robert Gordon University could be turned into mainstream housing.

Ellon-based applicants Arnage Estates says the 8-10 Craigievar Crescent block at Kaimhill has been empty since the lease with the university ended.

The agreement with the institution has come to an end. Image: Google Maps

If the change of use is approved it will mean the eight flats can be occupied both by “people that are in higher education and other potential tenants”.

Architects add: “Since the end of the lease with RGU, there have been vacancies in the flats, and in advertising them there has been a higher demand from non-students.”

Robert Gordon University's main campus in Garthdee, Aberdeen.
Despite the close proximity to the Garthdee campus, students don’t appear keen to live in Kaimhill. Image: Chris Sumner /DC Thomson

They suggest that students don’t fancy living in the residential area, among sheltered housing complexes.

‘Unknown costs are putting students off’

And due to rising energy costs, students are “seeking all-inclusive rentals rather than taking on the rental of the flat and bills”.

The area is not popular with students any more. Image: Google Maps

Papers state: “These unknown costs are putting students off.

“The purpose-built multi-occupancy modern halls of resident type of accommodation are the choice of students for now.”

And there are plenty of those, with even more in the pipeline, in Aberdeen.

Just a few days ago, plans for a huge new block just off George Street were approved by the council.

Bird hide to offer a spot to rest on scenic Aberdeenshire walk

Auchnerran, near Tarland, is what’s known as a “demonstration farm”, meaning it aims to show off “novel ideas” that could influence politicians, conservationists and farmers.

As part of this, owners now want to erect a new bird hide at the Logie Coldstone site.

They say it will be built on an area of flat ground, offering “panoramic views of the surrounding landscape”.

The spot in question. Image: Gerry Robb architects

And it will have more benefits rather than just observing ornithology.

Architects add: “The proposed bird hide will be located on a popular walking trail leading to Morven viewpoint.

“It will provide a recreational improvement for those frequenting the area, as a rest stop with information on the wildlife in the immediate surroundings.”

Historic graveyard in need of repair

Aberdeenshire Council wants to rebuild a crumbling wall, and install an information panel, at an ancient graveyard near Banff.

The plans for Inverboyndie Old Cemetery also include repairs to the burial vault and the steeple.

The section of wall in need of repair. Image: Aberdeenshire Council
The St Brandon’s Church steeple seen here in an archive image from 1970. Image: DC Thomson

Mill of Kincardine Farmhouse restoration

Improvements are planned at a historic Mearns farmhouse currently on the market to rent for £1,200 per month.

Applicant Zoe Steel, from Laurencekirk, is seeking permission to replace “extremely rotted” windows and unsightly doors at the five-bedroom home.

The farmhouse at Mill of Kincardine farm near Laurencekirk. Image: Galbraith

The B-listed Fettercairn site dates back to the early 19th century, and architects say these changes will “make it feel more pleasant”.

It comes after the surrounding arable farm was put on the market for £3 million in 2020.

Aberdeen woman wins battle to keep large fence

Earlier this year, we documented the unusual struggle of a Powis woman as she fought to keep an oversized fence erected around her garden without permission.

The structure seen here from the nearby hill caused a stir. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The unauthorised structure came under fire from neigbours in the Aberdeen community.

Some slammed its “visual impact and height”, while others said it posed a risk by blocking motorists’ views.

The controversial fence. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Applicant Ruma Begum pleaded to keep it, telling the council that she put it up after feeling “intimidated” by other Powis Crescent residents.

She claimed problems arose when a “large family” arrived “with several dogs” to live in another flat nearby.

But it wasn’t enough to convince unmoved planning chiefs, who ordered it be torn down…

The applicant made some changes in a bid to keep the barrier. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

What has changed?

But the saga has now taken a fresh twist.

This summer, Ms Begum painted it green and asked once again for permission to keep it there.

There’s now some good news for Ms Begum. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

She also chopped it down from 1.9m to 1.2m in height.

And council officials have now relented, giving the slightly smaller green fence their blessing.

Victoria’s picnic cottage to be reborn

Earlier this year, we revealed plans to do up Queen Victoria’s derelict Deeside picnic cottage.

The Mar Lodge Estate has now been given the go-ahead to rescue the Linn of Quoich building from ruin – and open it up to visitors.

The countryside cottage once fit for a queen. Image: Moxon Architects

Aberdeenshire Council heritage chiefs signed off on the plans, accepting the need for shutters to be added on security grounds.

The National Trust for Scotland’s USA Foundation has launched a $200,000 fundraiser to help cover the costs of the revamp.

They say: “In its current state, the picnic lodge is unusable – but the work to restore it is relatively simple.”

Artist impression of how Queen Victoria's picnic cottage in Mar Lodge Estate could look like.
Here’s how the rejuvenated building could look. Image: Moxon Architects
The cottage is nestled in a clearing in the woods. Image: Moxon Architects

Neighbours at odds over ‘shed-like’ AirBnB in Ballater garden

Plans for new visitor accommodation in the garden of a Ballater home have been approved despite the complaints of next door neighbours.

Dormie Cottage, on Ballater's Salisbury Road
Dormie Cottage, on Ballater’s Salisbury Road. Image: Gerry Robb architects

Hasse Simonsen, whose primary address has been given as Aalborg in Denmark, put forward the proposals this summer.

Mr Simonsen already runs 200-year-old Dormie Cottage, at 2 Salisbury Road, as a self-catering cottage for up to six guests.

The cottage in question is outlined here in red. Image: Gerry Robb architects

Hut ‘would boost Ballater economy’

Papers submitted to Aberdeenshire Council state: “The applicant wishes to site a ‘shepherd’s hut’ within a portion of garden ground fronting onto Salisbury Road.

“The proposed accommodation would provide small scale tourist accommodation within the village on a year-round basis.

“It is envisaged that guests would contribute to the year-round economy of the village.”

Architects say the structure will look something like this. Image: Gerry Robb architects

But next door neighbour Trevor Armstrong pleaded for the planning department to throw it out.

‘It looks like a cross between a caravan and a storage container’

He said the structure would look out of place in the traditional area.

Mr Armstrong added: “To build a shed that looks like a cross between a caravan and a storage container cannot be acceptable.”

Meanwhile, Angus and Lesley Davidson raised concerns about parking problems.

This is how the addition will look. Image: Gerry Robb architects

Why was it approved?

However, roads chiefs were “satisfied that there is sufficient space on the street for the one space which would be required”.

The council has now approved it – but only for three years, at which point the applicant will have to seek renewed permission.

Ballater is a popular spot with tourists. Image: Craig Munro/DC Thomson

It comes after the abundance of holiday homes in Royal Deeside was blamed for contributing to a housing “crisis”.

Recently, Braemar tradesman Rory Bruce had to persuade councillors to waive planning rules to allow him to build his own house.

Meldrum House Hotel extension to help business grow

The owners of the plush Meldrum House Hotel splashed out £4.5 million on a huge extension to the rear of the historic building in 2015.

It took bosses two years to see the plans through, managing to eventually convince wary historians that it wouldn’t have an adverse impact on the B-listed venue.

The historic Meldrum House Hotel
The historic Meldrum House Hotel. Image: Meldrum House

By the summer of 2016, it was built.

The huge extension was said to help “marry the period hotel to cater for growing demand”.

What is in the Meldrum House Hotel extension as it is?

It features a ballroom and 28 bedrooms, all designed to help lure in more international visitors.

And now, Meldrum House Hotel management want to extend their extension.

The extension finally came to life about seven years ago. Image: Meldrum House

McWilliam Lippe architects say the building has “witnessed great change” since being erected as a private home in the 13th Century.

They say the “luxury four-star hotel” is now one of the best in Scotland, but that upgrades will be necessary to ensure it remains a “top destination”.

With this in mind, they want to alter and expand the existing building, with additional kitchen facilities, a chefs table and staff offices.

The venue’s dining domes have proven popular since opening during the pandemic. Image: Meldrum House

What’s a chefs table?

This is a feature found in upmarket restaurant kitchens, reserved for guests of the chef.

They tend to come with bar type seating, allowing dinner parties to chat with the culinary maestro responsible for the posh nosh before them.

Guests booking a chefs table can often have special menus prepared for them.

Meldrum House Hotel chef Alan Clarke, pictured here in his previous job at the also-plush Maryculter House. Image: DC Thomson

And it comes as the Meldrum House Hotel has attracted some big names from the word of cooking in recent years…

Last year, celebrity chef Tony Singh took over the Oldmeldrum establishment for an exclusive evening.

Tony Singh surrounded by smartly dressed staff. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Why is further extension needed at Meldrum House Hotel?

The venue, which became a hotel in the 1950s, has been owned by Meldrum Estates for some time.

And documents sent to the council explain how the 2015 extension has helped Meldrum House Hotel “grow and expand into a leading destination for events and stays”.

How many visitors have stopped to snap the impressive building? Image: Darrell Benns, DC Thomson

The proposed addition to the building will “tie in completely with its aesthetic”.

They say it will “read simply as part of the existing fabric”, with just a single storey kitchen extension needed.

Meldrum House Estate also features other homes and a stunning golf course. Image: Meldrum House

Designers say the chefs table area would take the same approach, keeping “in line with the existing extension’s roof heights”.

They add: “While it will be attached the historic part of the building, it blends seamlessly with the existing large extension.”

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

Cults coffee kiosk 

McDonalds changes

Kaimhill student flats

Aboyne bird hide

Banff cemetery

Mill of Kincardine

Powis woman wins fence battle

Queen Victoria’s picnic cottage

Ballater AirBnB

Meldrum House Hotel extension plans