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Whisky galore at St Cyrus with plans to store 8,500 casks in barns and Braemar bucket sculpture approved

Elsewhere, the Co-op's proposal for a recycling machine in Aberdeen's west end has been tossed onto the scrapheap.

Plans to store thousands of whisky casks in barns at St Cyrus feature in our latest round-up.
Plans to store thousands of whisky casks in barns at St Cyrus feature in our latest round-up. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

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

This week’s instalment comes at a time when the darker nights are drawing in, and it’s that bit more tempting to have a warming dram of an evening.

And there could be whisky galore in store at St Cyrus, with hopes to transform barns into massive containers fit for thousands of casks.

Nearby, though, plans for a combined Meanrs brewery and wedding venue are on the rocks after planners poured cold water on the proposals.

But we start with a popular Aberdeen pub receiving a bit of a makeover.

Changes on tap at The Foundry…

The Foundry has been a staple of the city’s Holburn Street for many years, and bosses have decided to give it a radical overhaul.

The Foundry is just off Aberdeen city centre. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

As part of the revamp, owners the Stonegate Group are seeking permission to replace the current black and gold signs with burgundy panels.

New gold window vinyls would proclaim the pub as the “home of sport”, while boasting of “bookable booths” and “premium drinks”.

Fans reacting to the Scotland game against Croatia at The Foundry in 2021. Image: DC Thomson

And you can read more about the internal renovations, which include more TV screens, here.

There will even be new monitors at the doorway so that smokers nipping out don’t need to miss a moment of sporting action.

New Asian shop to open near Pittodrie

And speaking of sporting action…

Elsewhere in Aberdeen, businessman Chung Wong has been given permission to move forward with plans for a new grocery store yards from the home of the Dons.

Mr Wong was given the go-ahead to transform a warehouse into the store in 2021, but has only now progressed the scheme with accompanying plans for new signs.

The shop is planned for Merkland Road East. Image: Google Maps

These indicate that the shop will be known as Many Mart, and suggest it might specialise in Asian cuisine.

The 17 Merkland Road East site was formerly run by building firm Knowles and Son, and dates back to 1961.

Planners REJECT combined brewery and wedding venue

This spring, Planning Ahead revealed proposals to marry a Mearns brewery with a wedding venue.

In late 2020, Fordoun-based builders FJB Scotland were given permission to turn farm buildings between the village and Inverbervie into a wedding venue.

The envisioned Woodburnden complex. Image: Taylor Architecture

The Woodburnden wedding complex, just off the A90, will feature space for indoor and outdoor ceremonies and a bridal suite – with its own hot tub and BBQ outside.

There would also be a range of other function rooms.

Earlier this year, the developers decided to link with Laurencekirk-based Burnside Brewery.

Steven Lewis, head brewer at Burnside Brewery in Laurencekirk. Image: Opportunity North East

The beer manufacturers had been looking for a larger premises, and the two parties began plotting their union.

They drew up plans to build the new brewery on unused land next to the hospitality complex, and asked the local authority for its blessing.

This shows how the brewery would sit adjacent to the wedding venue. Image: Taylor Architecture

Why were the plans spurned?

But Aberdeenshire Council planners, offered the chance to speak now or forever hold their peace, have wrecked the potential match made in heaven.

They say the such a development would go against policies aimed at protecting the countryside, where new employment schemes are restricted to brownfield sites.

The Woodburnden complex has been rejected. Image: Taylor Architecture

The design, meanwhile, is slammed as being “out of keeping” with the rural area and concerns were flagged about a lack of car parking.

Former Oldmeldrum cafe could become new flat

The Stitch House cafe and shop on Oldmeldrum’s Urquhart Road closed about two years ago.

Since then, the C-listed 18th century building has been listed for sale as a retail unit – with manager accommodation upstairs.

The Stitch House closed in late 2021. Image: Google Maps

But it was withdrawn earlier this year.

And owners WKL Developments now want to turn the ground floor into a three-bedroom flat.

Art gallery plans for historic Portsoy bakery

Meanwhile, Portsoy’s former McBain’s shop and bakery has been turned into a new art gallery just yards away from the town’s picturesque harbour.

It dates back to 1720, became a bakery in the 1950s and served generations of loyal customers until Edgar and Marion McBain retired in 1988.

The building in the historic part of Portsoy. Image: Mantell Ritchie architects

The building was later used by the Portsoy Past and Present Community Group to stage displays.

Now, Glynn Clarkson and Yana Belmega are seeking to make some changes as they convert it into an art gallery.

The pair began their plans this summer, but have now lodged papers with the council to secure permission for some alterations.

The gallery is being given a fresh look. Image: Mantell Ritchie architects

They want to install double-glazed windows, put in new insulated flooring in the gallery and fill in an old doorway to create more exhibition space on the wall.

The historic oven inside, dating back to its time as a bakery, will be kept.

But it could be hidden behind a new partition to “reduce potential damp issues”.

Former baker Edgar McBain at Portsoy Harbour in 2008. Image: Gordon Lennox/DC Thomson

Banchory equestrian centre to host visitors

A few weeks ago, the P&J revealed plans for a unique visitor retreat near Huntly – where people could take their horses on holiday with them.

Now Bogenraith Equestrian, at Durris on the outskirts of Banchory, wants to welcome guests with five “sleeping pods”.

The five huts would be arranged in a U-shape. Image: Inspired Design

Their architects say the “tourist facilities” will only be used by people attending the centre, and will help make the business more “robust”.

The business boasts of being a “world class equestrian centre”, with a restaurant designed to encourage visitors to “return time and time again”.

Braemar bucket plinth approved – but question remains over art

Have you been to Braemar lately?

If you have, then the chances are you might have seen a massive metal sculpture shaped like a bucket at the entrance to the Royal Deeside village.

Here it is! Image: Kirstie Topp/DC Thomson

The striking structure was put up this August outside the Invercauld Arms hotel (which itself recently received planning permission for a major overhaul).

When we visited to see what people made of this giant bucket, some were impressed and others questioned whether it was “too bizarre for Braemar”.

Invercauld Arms owners Artfarm have now been given official approval… But, strictly speaking, only for the plinth the 6m high bucket has been placed on.

The plinth can be seen here. Image: Subodh Gupta and Hauser & Wirth

The tricky part is that the artwork is only intended to be there temporarily.

The owners want to “rotate” some of the pieces they have, giving various sculptures their moment in the spotlight.

So they have only applied for planning permission for the 3m x 3m slab of concrete that will be used to host these pieces.

The sculpture can be seen as you pass the Invercauld Arms. Image: Kirstie Topp/DC Thomson

Officials agreed that this plinth has “limited visual impact”.

But they cautioned that “further discussion may be required” about the size, scale and longevity of the Braemar bucket.

And planners said any further pieces displayed there must not be illuminated, and should not exceed a certain height.

Learn more about the eye-catching sculpture:

Co-op’s plans to boost recycling ‘would ruin aesthetic of west end’

Plans to boost recycling in Aberdeen have been rejected because the large contraption needed would block a pavement and look unsightly.

The Co-op submitted an application for a reverse vending machine outside its Fountainhall Road store in the west end.

Fountainhall Road in Aberdeen’s west end. Image: Google Maps

It was dreamed up to contribute to Scotland’s ill-fated deposit return scheme, which has become the subject of heated political debate.

And the Co-op’s plans have had about as much success as those of the Scottish Government…

Ever eager to protect the city’s granite heritage, horrified planning officers said the machine would harm the Rubislaw and Albyn conservation area.

The structure would have been placed at the front of the shop. Image: Google Maps

They said the strucure, which would be higher than 2m, would be “excessive”, and “incongruous with the expected character and appearance of Fountainhall Road”.

But what about the planet?

The council does acknowledge that the Co-op has good intentions with the proposal.

Officers agree that it does go well alongside the authority’s eco policies, by encouraging recycling.

Reverse vending machines
Reverse vending machines are in use elsewhere in Aberdeen. Image: Kami Thomson/DCT Media.

But they say it’s still not in an “appropriate location”, and they encourage the grocery giants to think about putting it inside the shop.

The council also worried that the sound of plastic bottles being recycled could affect the people living nearby.

Do you think the council was right to refuse the Co-op’s plans? Let us know in our comments section below

St Cyrus whisky casks proposal

Now we move on to bottles of a different nature.

Chapelton-based Snowdrop Developments, acting on behalf of a mysterious whisky giant client, have grand plans for farm buildings outside St Cyrus.

These farm buildings could soon be given over to a new use. Image: Snowdrop Developments

They want to turn the site at Commieston into a base for storing and distributing Scotland’s national drink.

Three sheds, currently used to store grain and machinery, would be cleared to house a staggering 8,500 casks.

Hundreds of thousands of bottles worth of whisky could be kept in the casks inside St Cyrus barns. Image: Whisky Hammer.

Meanwhile, an office would be retained for staff, and a separate building could ultimately become a tasting room.

Having casks all over Scotland is ‘extremely inefficient’

Papers explain that the unnamed whisky producers in question “currently have their stock of 8,500 casks stored in 34 locations across Scotland”.

This, Snowdrop Developments say, is “extremely inefficient for their operations”, and is now “limiting their growth”.

This St Cyrus barn could soon host thousands of whisky casks. Image: Snowdrop Developments

These St Cyrus plans would allow them to store all of their whisky casks in the one spot.

The papers add: “The whisky trade is vital to the Scottish economy and there are a number of similar projects happening across rural Scotland

“The storage units would initially be managed by two to three employees, who will be responsible for handling the stock on site.”

The farmers are on board with the scheme. Image: Snowdrop Developments

Could St Cyrus ultimately become spot for whisky tourism?

And the developers claim the tasting room scheme could ultimately “create further employment opportunities” and “help bring tourism to the local area”.

The current owners are soon to relocate their storage buildings to Fasque, with the applicants arguing they could otherwise fall into disrepair in the future.

This roundhouse could later become a tasting room. Image: Snowdrop Developments

Last year, the council rubber-stamped plans to create two whisky warehouses on an unused field outside Kemnay.

Consultants Aurora cited surging demand for warehouses to help the industry bounce back from setbacks like Covid and the suspension of US tariffs.

Steading at Billy Connolly’s old estate to be demolished

And we finish with another of Scotland’s most famous exports.

Plans to flatten a Donside shack once the property of Billy Connolly have been put forward by the new owners of his former estate.

The Mill of Newe building in Strathdon, just off the A944 road from Aberdeen, has “lain unused for many years” and fallen into decay.

The building is falling apart. Image: Ramsay Chalmers engineers

The Candacraig Estate, which is now owned by Lynne and Marc Lino, wants to demolish the steading, leaving an east wing intact for storage and “wildlife habitat”.

Check out our gallery of Billy Connolly at the Lonach Games over the years.

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

Foundry changes

New shop near Pittodrie 

Wedding venue plans scuppered

Oldmeldrum cafe

Portsoy art gallery 

Banchory equestrian centre

Braemar bucket plinth approved

Co-op’s reverse vending machine plans axed

St Cyrus whisky casks application

Donside demolition scheme