It’s full steam ahead for plans to convert the former Cults Railway Station into a cafe – as councillors have finally voted to breathe new life into the historic building.
The decision came after the planning committee braved torrential rain to visit the Deeside Way site this morning.
John Mackenzie, of JJ’s Food & Drink, first unveiled his hopes to transform the old station in 2021.
But the Cults businessman’s plans hit the buffers when the scheme was refused by Aberdeen City Council chiefs last year.
However he tweaked the designs and resubmitted it to the local authority earlier this year.
The renewed proposal proved to be a hit with the public, as more than 100 letters of support for the cafe and bicycle shop were sent in.
The application was previously discussed at a planning meeting last Thursday but councillors agreed to visit the site first before making their final decision.
Cults Station plan would ‘enhance area’
Despite the pouring rain, members headed out to the Station Road spot this morning to see the building for themselves.
After receiving a guided tour and asking some questions, the drenched councillors headed back to the Town House to dry off and debate the plans.
Convener Ciaran McRae suggested the committee back Mr Mackenzie’s vision for the former station.
His SNP colleague Neil Copland agreed – arguing the transformation will make the building “more aesthetically pleasing”.
“We need local businesses, we need local employers and this will enhance the area,” he said.
Mr Copland also recognised that the plan had received a lot of support from customers at the temporary kiosk outside the former station.
“More than 100 people took the time to support this and I think we should listen to them,” he concluded.
Cafe and bike shop ‘a great application for somewhere else’
However Lower Deeside councillor Marie Boulton urged members to refuse the plan over fears it would have a negative impact on surrounding neighbours.
She told the chamber that a large number of people had contacted her raising concerns about pedestrian access.
“I can see great merits in this application but it’s just in the wrong location,” she said.
“We’ve got to recognise that we do have to consider residents, whether it’s one or 50.
“The location is hugely detrimental in terms of road safety as far as I’m concerned.”
She added: “This is a great application for somewhere else.”
Ms Boulton went on to say she was “not comfortable” to support the proposal, but wanted it to remain as a bike repair shop in its current format.
But despite her pleas, the application was approved following a vote with eight in favour to three against.
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Coffee kiosk to remain open for another year
Meanwhile, councillors also allowed The Boxcar to operate for another 12 months.
The temporary permission will allow the outdoor coffee kiosk to remain open while work on its new permanent location inside the station is completed.
The Boxcar first welcomed customers back in July 2021.
Speaking at last week’s meeting, project architect Richard Dingwall argued the development would create local investment and jobs.
He also said the conversion would “help to retain the building’s heritage while installing a sense of place and identity”.