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Huge house planned for Shenval spot outside Ballater ‘where Scotland’s last wolf was killed’

Also: A former Bridge of Don offshore office could become a nursery while an old Gartly school and Portsoy kirk are being turned into homes.

The huge Shenval house near Ballater would be made to very modern requirements.
The huge Shenval house near Ballater would be made to very modern requirements. Image: Mhorvan Park/DC Thomson

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

This week we delve into a little-known bit of Deeside history with a look at the spot where, legend has it, the last wolf in Scotland was killed.

It comes as plans for a huge new house at the Shenval site, near Ballater, have been lodged.

Elsewhere, we have an old school at Gartly and a former Portsoy church both becoming homes.

But we start with some good news about a one-woman Balmedie business needing to expand after proving so popular.

Balmedie mum wants to turn family garage into ‘cake kitchen’

Jaqueline Clibborn is something of a dab hand when it comes to baking, and started making cakes for sale online from her Craigour home in Balmedie a few years ago.

The Beachside Bakes venture has since taken off.

And now she needs permission to expand the independent business – by taking over the family garage.

The garage in question at the family home. Image: Google Maps

Under blueprints sent to Aberdeenshire Council, it would become a “cake kitchen”.

Sweet treats would be collected from the unit from 2pm to 6pm on Fridays, and from 9am to 3pm on Saturdays.

The garage is detached from the three-bedroom home.

Mum ‘caught baking bug’ helping out in kitchen as a child

The self-taught baker’s website says that she specialises in luxury occasion cakes and cupcakes.

She explains: “Having caught the baking bug from a very young age helping my mum and granny make the ‘family famous’ chocolate cake and countless scones and biscuits, I then rediscovered the baking joy as a student in Aberdeen.

“The cupcakes took a bit of back seat as my children arrived to liven up the party and I then got the chance to try my hand at some more elaborate birthday creations.

“Towards the end of 2019 I decided to offer my cakes for sale and so Beachside Bakes was officially born.”

A tasty chocolate cupcake. Image: Shutterstock

Plans come amid ‘increased demand for cakes’

Papers sent to the local authority state: “The applicant has been running a business manufacturing fresh cakes to order.

“The company is called Beachside Bakes and with increased demand, the applicant is seeking to use the garage space for the manufacture of cakes.”

The property is just off North Beach Road. Image: Google Maps

Architects say this would provide Mrs Clibborn with “a flexible working arrangement close to home, that can work well with looking after school-aged children”.

Postbox plans for King Street

Meanwhile, in Aberdeen, Royal Mail wants to put up a new postbox on King Street.

The new postbox would be somewhere around about here. Image: Google Maps

It would be erected outside St Ninian’s Episcopal Church, near Seaton Park.

Musician backed by scores of supporters in shed wrangle

Musician Barry Carroll, who runs One Lad Ltd lessons, has been given the go-ahead to continue tuition from an adapted shed in his garden on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

Barry Carroll toured the US with an Irish folk band before settling in the north-east. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

In a letter to Aberdeen planning chiefs, Mr Carroll explains that he never realised formal permission would be required when he started the venture during Covid.

But he adds that he sound-proofed the Stoneywood shed to minimise any impact on the community.

The multi-instrumentalist states: “In response to government directives during the pandemic, I adapted my work arrangements by providing lessons from home, as instructed.

“This was essential for the safety of both my students and the community at large. My business then grew organically as a result of this.”

In addition to the lessons, he also now records regular Youtube videos from the hut:

‘I really enjoy the classes and they’re not a nuisance’

In an interview with the Press and Journal shorty after embarking on his music teaching career, Mr Carroll told us it was “the best thing he’s ever done”.

And many of the people whose lives he has touched since then backed the Irishman’s crusade to keep working from the shed.

One Lad Music Services tends to have only a small number of students in at any one time. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Naomi Scott, from Kingswells, was one of many who wrote to the council.

She said: “The benefit to community from wholesome music tuition is without question.”

Gavin Wood, from Charleston Road North, added: “The business provides an excellent service and operates in a considerate, professional manner at all times.”

Student Aidan Young, from Aberdeen, wrote: “I really enjoy the classes with Barry and we are not causing a nuisance, just playing instruments.”

The musician shows off his collection. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Mum Rachel Fraser said: “My son is learning to play the guitar, which he has always wanted to do.”

And neighbour Jake Blair says it had “never caused any anti-social issues”.

Planning chiefs agreed it “does not cause any conflict” as they rubber-stamped the proposal.

Merkur Slots fighting council as time limit placed on George Street arcade

In November, Aberdeen councillors gave Merkur Slots the go-ahead to transform a derelict former bookies on George Street into a new arcade.

But the decision came despite fury from residents, who worried about the proposed 24/7 “adult gaming centre” disturbing them at all hours.

And, in granting permission to open, the council imposed a rule that it has to close by 10pm every night.

Image shows the vacant unit on 178 George Street, which was once operated by Ladbrokes.
The former Ladbrokes betting shop has been vacant since 2019. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson.

That hasn’t gone down too well with Merkur Slots.

And bosses are now gambling on the Scottish Government taking their side…

‘Opening 24-hours is entirely acceptable’

The firm says that staying open around the clock would be “entirely acceptable, in accordance with local and national policy”.

But, in a bid to find a compromise, they are seeking the ruling be altered only to allow opening until 2am every day.

The slots arcade plans to move into 178 George Street, next to the Greggs. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

A letter to Holyrood decision-makers states: “The late-night customer base is predominately late shift workers looking to relax after shifts.

“Whilst longer hours of operation are sought, it is important to consider that Merkur Slots noise levels are very low and disturbance to surrounding uses are effectively mitigated and minimal.”

The Aberdeen team celebrating the opening of Merkur Slots on Union Street – Kevin Robb, Vicki Miller and Ken Creelman

And they argue that similar arcades with flats above exist in Hull, Camberwell, Boston, Carshalton, Hackney and Dudley – with no complaints.

New nursery planned for old office in Bridge of Don

Newmachar-based Swann Property Maintenance wants to turn part of the NG Bailey and Co office in Bridge of Don into a new nursery.

The company would take on space previously occupied by Global Offshore in the building.

The building earmarked for the new nursery. Image: Google Maps

A fenced-off play area would be created at the Woodside Road site under the transformation.

Portsoy church to become home more than a decade after last service

A few weeks ago, we revealed how the former Portsoy Church, on Seafield Terrace, could become a new home.

Olivia Palmer has now been given permission to turn it into a huge house.

Would you like to live in a house like this? Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson
Here is how it looks inside. Image: Church of Scotland

The B-listed granite building dates back to 1844 but has not been used as a church since 2011, and was sold for £60,000 last year.

The council’s decision states: “The proposed change of use would allow for the reuse of the disused church.

“Surrounding neighbouring properties are residential, therefore, converting the existing church into a single residential unit would be consistent with the character of the area.”

The huge building is now officially classed as a home. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Although the change of use has been granted, no internal works are being proposed at the moment.

It comes after its nearby neighbour the St John the Baptist Church was turned into a restaurant.

The church on a bright winter’s day. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Closed down countryside school will be reborn as house

Meanwhile, in a countryside spot near Huntly, Niall Killoh has been given permission to turn the old Gartly Central School into a five-bedroom home.

The building at Bridgend, just north of Gartly at the A97 junction, was last used as a school in 1962 and has been vacant ever since.

The old Gartly Central School building. Image: Google Maps

Agents offered the plot for sale at £220,000.

Mr Killoh, from Inverurie, will add an extension to form a “snug room” on the ground floor.

The old school is on the Buildings at Risk Register, and said to be in “poor” condition.

House plans at notable Shenval site outside Ballater

Shenval, near Glen Gairn outside Ballater, was once a “township” of farmworkers made up of many small houses.

At that time, it was part of the Invercauld Estate.

The site just off the rural route between Ballater and Tomintoul. Image: Google Maps

It is said to have played host to a remarkable slice of history…

According to legend, it was on a rocky coire above Shenval that the last wolf in Scotland was killed.

Wolves like this one once roamed the countryside. Image: Shutterstock

The Legends o’ the Braes o Mar book gives an account of farmworkers spotting the soon-to-be-slain beast there, after the recorded final killing in Killiecrankie (though even that is disputed).

Regardless of its place in Scottish wildlife history, there are just some scattered ruins left there now.

The spot when the site was for sale. Image: Google Maps

And under fresh plans submitted to Aberdeenshire Council, it could become home to one of Royal Deeside’s most stunning modern homes.

Applicant Marc Simon, who lives in Kincardine O’Neil, is behind the scheme.

His architects shed some light on the site’s history in papers seeking permission for the project.

The Shenval house planned for the outskirts of Ballater. Image: Katrina Denholm architect

Shenval house applicant ‘fell in love’ with site in Ballater countryside

The documents state: “It is unclear when Shenval was vacated, or what happened to cause the dwelling to go into disrepair, in its current condition.

“In 1995 the plot was sold to the previous owners and was granted planning permission and warrant to build a retirement home on.

“Unfortunately, this plan was not executed, and the previous owners decided to sell.”

The Shenval house would back onto the road leading from Ballater to Tomintoul. Image: Katrina Denholm architect

It was at this point that Mr Simon “fell in love with the plot”, and he bought it in 2023.

He wants to build a “sustainable and adaptable” three-bedroom family home, taking advantage of the site’s “fantastic views”.

Shenval house Ballater
Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to a view like this? Image: Katrina Denholm architect

Do you think of this week’s plans? Let us know in our comments section below

Designer to the royals moves forward with Ballater extension plan

Finally, the king’s personal interior designer has taken a step towards transforming his historic hotel and business base in Ballater.

Mikhail Pietranek wants to add a two-and-a-half storey extension at his Monaltrie House property in the village.

Mikhail Pietranek. Image: Colin Rennie/DC Thomson

The “luxury interior design specialist”, whose clients also include Harrods and Ralph Lauren, runs his royally-approved interior design business from there.

But it’s also a popular wedding venue, with rooms for guests, and has been known to host London police officers on duty at Balmoral.

Monaltrie House sits in the shadow of Craignedarroch. Image: DWR Architecture

There would be a gym, spa, store and sitting room on the ground floor of the extension.

The first floor would have two bedrooms and two sitting rooms, while there would be two extra bedrooms and a sitting room on the attic floor.

After going through a few revisions to satisfy history watchdogs, Aberdeenshire Council has now accepted the changes to the listed building.

The extension would be for self-catering guests to make use of. Image: DWR Architecture

Local heritage chiefs say: “The rear extension is considered appropriate, reestablishing a courtyard which existed prior to fire damages in the late 20th century.”

However, the authority is yet to grant full planning permission for the scheme.

Last year, Planning Ahead revealed that the luxury designer had upset historians by demolishing old buildings at Monaltrie House without permission.

You can see this week’s plans for yourself here:

Balmedie Beachside Bakes

King Street postbox 

Aberdeen shed music studio

Merkur Slots opening hours row

Bridge of Don nursery

Portsoy Church plans approved

Gartly Central School proposal 

Plans for huge new Shenval house near Ballater

Monaltrie latest