Welcome to Planning Ahead – our weekly round-up of the latest proposals across the north-east.
This week’s instalment covers tourism-boosting plans at Pitcaple, a new coach park proposed for a growing secondary school and even a new ice cream parlour in Dyce.
We also feature a wedding organiser putting forward proposals to create a new marriage venue just off Aberdeen city centre.
And we start with a trip to nearby Union Street, where plans to restore the sparkle to some grubby granite buildings are under way…
Gleam restored to 1970s office block
Visitors to the centre of Aberdeen may have recently noticed scaffolding enveloping the office block above the Pret a Manger and BHS electrical and furniture charity shop.
Caledonian House, on the junction of Union Street and Union Row, was acquired by Standard Real Estate (SRE) earlier this year.
The same group took over the Union Point building at the harbour in 2019 and completely transformed its fortunes.
SRE director Hamish Munro said plans for the site would assist with the “revitalisation of Union Street” by creating space for new and established businesses.
As it stands, the 55,000 square foot building is currently available to let.
The company has now been given permission to give the granite stonework a deep clean – and it has swooped into action already.
The site was previously home to the Majestic Cinema, but was demolished to make way for the office block – which opened in 1976.
Could solar panels be added to new Union Street flats?
Elsewhere on the Granite Mile, plans have been lodged for another former picturehouse.
The old Gaumont cinema was turned into offices after the projector fell silent.
After those closed, it lay empty and decaying until plans to turn the building into 15 affordable homes were approved.
Now, plans have been lodged for new solar panels on the roof of the building near the junction with Bridge Street.
Blueprints show how dozens of the devices would be installed.
Dyce tandoori to start serving ice cream!
Over in on the outskirts of the city, plans to pair a popular curry house with an ice cream parlour have been rubber-stamped.
Under the scheme, space at the restaurant will be divided to form the new desserts haven.
Bosses hope it will prove a hit with customers eager to cool down their taste buds after a spicy meal.
Dyce house plan REFUSED
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the community, Norman Hunter’s plans to turn a guesthouse into a new home have been rejected by Aberdeen City Council.
The Dalwhinnie B&B at 1B Skene Place would have been torn down to provide space for a one-and-a-half storey three-bedroom property.
Decision-makers binned the proposal as it would “over-develop” the area, and impact on any future residents at 1A Skene Place by taking away garden ground.
Decades-old Deeside petrol station could be demolished
It was the end of an era when Rita and John Strang gave up The Garage petrol station in Kincardine O’Neil in 2018.
They opened it in 1956, and spent a staggering 62 years at the pumps.
The community champions were bestowed lifetime achievement awards at the Inspiring Aberdeenshire event after retiring.
They were praised for “repeatedly going over and above for their customers”.
Mr Strang died in 2022 at the age of 92.
It has now been empty for years, meaning villagers have to travel to fuel up, and is listed for sale.
Estate agents say the site “may lend itself to alternative uses, such as residential development”.
What next for the site?
And now local businessman Alan Riach, of nearby Deeside Log Cabins, has submitted papers to Aberdeenshire Council outlining some plans for the spot.
Mr Riach is considering the plot by bulldozing the building and its vintage-style pumps.
Papers indicate he is “interested in potentially purchasing the site to re-develop it”, and has commissioned contamination experts to see if there are any issues which could get in the way.
Laurencekirk-based EnviroSurveying Ltd say there could be possible “fuel leakage/seepage” from the underground tanks installed in the 1970s and 80s.
There could also be potential “oil/fuel escape” from the base of the inspection pit in the small workshop.
But the specialists say there are ways to investigate and resolve any problems.
Bat experts have also checked the old petrol station for any roosts and given the demolition idea the all-clear.
Kemnay Academy coach park plans with more pupils to be bussed in
A field next to Kemnay Academy could be paved over to form a £500,000 coach park as more and more pupils arrive at the school by bus.
The council explains that the 960-pupil secondary school, which dates back to 1982, has children from five cluster primaries and some pupils from outwith the catchment.
More than two thirds get the bus, and the roll is expected to rise as more houses are built.
This, education bosses fear, might worsen space issues at the site.
Documents state: “Currently buses are having to use limited layby space on Bremner Way.
“But, due to a significant increase in bus pupils since these laybys were formed, there is not enough space for all vehicles.”
They say “operational and safety challenges” have been reported by Kemnay Academy staff, parents and pupils.
This scheme would provide a “dedicated coach park” with room for 12 buses to drop youngsters off.
Could log cabins boost tourism in Inverurie area?
The owners of Gunhill Farm, at Pitcaple, say their plans for five log cabins on the land will tap into the region’s latent tourism potential.
Thomas and Ellen Stewart have set aside a parcel of land for the development.
Planning papers describe the proposal as a “diversification venture” for the family.
The 500-acre farm is a mix of arable and livestock, with 450 breeding ewes and 150 cattle.
It has been in the family for almost 100 years, with Mr Stewart a third generation farmer.
Their daughters, Penny and Sasha, will take it on eventually.
And the documents submitted by architects explain how the sisters would combine their skills to run it as a farm and tourism destination.
They state: “Penny is a vet and hence has an interest in livestock.
“Sasha has worked in the leisure industry and is keen to develop the tourism enterprise at the farm.”
Local visitor industry backs family’s vision for farm’s future
The family hope their plans might turn the area into more of a tourist hotspot, by “delivering unique, high-quality experiences”.
The papers continue: “The proposal aims to provide an accommodation offering of the highest quality, creating a true home from home experience.”
The cabins would be part of the Wigwam Holidays network, which promotes getaways in the great outdoors.
It’s already been backed by Euan Webster, the owner of the Lochter Activity Centre at Oldmeldrum.
He says it will combat a “dearth of holiday accommodation in the area”.
Mr Webster says he currently finds himself with “extremely limited” options when visitors ask about places to stay nearby.
David Stephen, who runs the Barra Castle events venue, agrees.
He says there is “ready demand” for facilities like these.
Could former offshore office become new Aberdeen wedding venue?
Finally, we look at how an unassuming building in an industrial area of Aberdeen could play host to the most romantic day of couples’ lives.
Florist Edna Mordi is more used to planning of a different nature, with the events organiser playing a leading role in many couples’ big day.
Now, she has lodged papers with Aberdeen City Council seeking permission to transform storage space at her Higher Calling premises in the Norton Business Centre.
Documents explain that she has been making use of it in conjunction with her business of “arranging and setting events such as weddings, birthday parties and the like”.
The premises on Stell Road, has been the home of her Higher Calling firm for years, after the Eserve offshore company moved out.
She keeps tables, chairs, floral displays and other accoutrement there.
The events worker currently moves all of the equipment to other venues for occasions she has been hired to organise.
Now she wants to stage “weddings, birthdays and family celebrations” at the spot.
New Aberdeen wedding venue ‘won’t sell alcohol – but will serve it’
Her architects add: “Our client owns these premises.
“They also hope to use the venue for meetings and mini conferences. The venue will provide all services commonly associated with large hotels or the like.
“For these events they will arrange for or accommodate for catering for the
“They do not intend to sell alcohol from these premises but alcohol will be served to guests appropriately at events.”
What about traffic?
Given the close proximity to the bus and train stations, and the Union Square car park, there aren’t any plans for parking spaces at the new Aberdeen wedding venue.
Council road bosses agree that this won’t be necessary, adding: “There are also sections of unrestricted kerbside which are available on a first come, first served basis.”
But they want the applicant to provide storage space for four bicycles, before they say “I do” to the proposals.
You can see the plans for yourself here:
Plans for new Aberdeen wedding venue