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Restoration plans for crumbling Cluny Castle cottage and extension at Huntly mansion

Meanwhile, the Nationwide bank is indicating it plans to stay put on Aberdeen's Union Street.

A Cluny Castle cottage could be brought back to life under new plans.
A Cluny Castle cottage could be brought back to life under new plans. Image: Clarke Cooper/DC Thomson

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

This week’s instalment takes in some homes with their fair share of history.

There are plans to do up a dilapidated cottage in the grounds of Cluny Castle, near Sauchen, so that it could become extra accommodation.

And the historic birthplace of Baxters soup matriarch, Ena Baxter, on the outskirts of Huntly could be in line for a string of changes.

In Aberdeen, more unwanted offices are finding a new lease of life and a bank appears determined to stay on Union Street.

Beach cabin could be built at picturesque Pennan

First, with spring finally here, we take a trip to the seaside.

Fraserburgh businessman David Ritchie, a director of Bryggen Business Services, wants to make the most of his spot at scenic Pennan.

Mr Ritchie has lodged plans to demolish an old garage facing the shoreline.

The historic fishing village of Pennan. Image: Kenny/DC Thomson

He wants to erect a “beach cabin”, with its own shower, in its place between 54 and 55 Shore Street.

It would also have a wood burning stove.

The hut in question is towards the end of the row of seaside homes, near the large car park to the west of the bay.

The shed sits at the foot of cliffs. Image: Google Maps
An image of the new hut proposed by the applicant. Image: Mantell Ritchie architects

Security measures for unique Newburgh farm

Elsewhere along the north-east coast, the firm behind a unique vertical farm in Newburgh wants to erect 2.4m security fencing around the site.

Steadman Partners has operated the eye-catching Vertegrow agricultural plot for the past few years.

The Vertegrow base at Newburgh. Image: Vertegrow

The business, backed by BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie, runs from 33ft high sheds near the Ythan Estuary.

In vertical farms, plants are grown in stacked layers. This means that crops can be grown without work taking place on fields occupied by native plants and animals.

A glimpse inside the futuristic farm. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

New plans for large home on Aberdeen’s Queens Road

In Aberdeen, we have more plans to turn a west end workplace into a new home.

The 46 Queens Road address could become a six-bedroom property under new plans lodged by a Mr P Shields.

The Queens Road building. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

At the moment, the Victorian mansion building is advertised as a base for “quality offices, meeting facilities and training rooms”.

But it has been offered for sale at a price of £750,000.

The changes will mean one fewer empty office block on Queens Road. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Medical practice to open in former Aberdeen office

And nearby, proposals to transform another west end office into a medical practice have been rubber-stamped.

Designs for the 10 Queens Road spot, revealed in Planning Ahead last year, show how it will be converted.

The plans for a new west end medical practice have been approved. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

It started off life as a home, like many former offices in the area, and was latterly Millstream premises before falling vacant for the past five years.

Applicant Gary Brown has now been given the go-ahead to open a medical clinic offering “consulting, diagnostic and outpatient daycare facilities”.

The building is now under offer. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

A 4.15m customised lift would be built to carry stretchers into the building from the rear car park.

Bank shows commitment to bricks and mortar branch in Aberdeen

Aberdeen’s Granite Mile has seen its fair share of doom and gloom over the last several years.

And it’s not just been shops closing down. Various banking giants have decided to mothball their longstanding city centre branches.

The ATMs were torn out of the Union Street Bank of Scotland branch in late 2022. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The Bank of Scotland shut its Union Street site in late 2022 while already in 2024, the Halifax near the Castlegate end has been abandoned.

So it will come as some relief to those with an interest in the street to learn that Nationwide appears to be investing in its Aberdeen branch.

However, to complete an intended glow-up with illuminated replacement signs, permission will be needed for work on its historic home.

The bank building. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Why is permission needed?

The C-listed 133 Union Street address dates back to the early 19th century, and is part of a conservation area.

Historians say it’s “an early example of a Classical tenement and forms an essential component of the planned streetscape of Union Street”.

The front could soon be given a bit of a makeover. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Though built in a similar style to legendary architect Archibald Simpson, it can’t be attributed to him for sure.

It was a Boots chemist, and then a Virgin Megastore for many years, before becoming empty and being reopened as a Nationwide in 2017.

How the store looked back when it was a Boots. Image: DC Thomson

Plans follow firm’s A-lister advertising campaign

As well as the new signs, Nationwide wants to upgrade the ATMs and install a new window message bearing the slogan “a good way to bank”.

It follows an advertising campaign where the Swindon-based company pledged that, unlike their rivals, they would keep their bricks and mortar premises.

It features actor Dominic West playing a fictional boss of another bank:

The Royal Bank of Scotland was given permission to install illuminated signage on its Union Street building about a year ago.

Multi-million-pound Deeside hotel plans get even bigger

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Banchory, developers have been given permission to build an even bigger hotel than first planned.

The luxury £30 million Lucullan was approved a few years ago.

As well as the large venue with two restaurants, a spa and more, they want to build 95 family homes to help fund the project.

An artist’s impression of the £30 million, five-star hotel planned for Inchmarlo.

Now, proposals to expand the footprint with an extra wing of 16 bedrooms have been sealed by Aberdeenshire Council.

The two-storey structure will have eight rooms on each floor.

The approval came despite pleas from local man William Muir, who voiced concerns about the additional traffic it would bring.

He argued the road network is already unfit to handle the extra vehicles, with these new bedrooms being “the last thing it needs”.

Huntly garage needs permission – after being opened

In Huntly, flower shop owner Bob Barron needs retrospective consent after turning a patch of land next to the Meadow Street store into a commercial garage.

The Huntly site. Image: Google Maps

The Barron Automotive boss has already started using it for the purpose, and was not aware permission would be required.

Could historic mansion be extended with new wine cellar?

Now we travel a few miles away, to the stunning Drumblair House.

The historic mansion between Huntly and Turriff dates to the 18th century, and has something of a shady past…

The stunning Drumblair House. Image: Annie Kenyon architects

In 1921, notorious con man George Hanbury Williams embarked on a crime spree after scamming his way into securing the lease to the mansion.

But after that, it was the birthplace of Scottish soup queen Ena Baxter.

The woman behind the Fochabers empire was born there in 1924, and attended school in nearby Huntly.

Ena Baxter in her 1980s advertising campaign. Image: Universal News And Sport (Europe)

It has been owned for several years by millionaire Andrew Prendergast, who is listed as the director of English cleaning companies.

However, it is now listed as self-catering accommodation, with seven bedrooms available and space for 12 guests.

So what are the proposed changes?

Mr Prendergast wants to carry out a string of alterations.

Under proposals, the sitting room would be expanded, a wine cellar would be added and a new courtyard/conservatory could be created.

The huge home. Image: Annie Kenyon architects

The sitting room changes would correspond with an en-suite bathroom being built in the floor above, and create an “interesting” breakout space.

The courtyard would be crafted would be “for shooting parties to gather at the beginning and end of the day”.

Here’s one option showing how the extension would look. Image: Annie Kenyon architects

Plans to do up Cluny Castle cottage

Cosmo Linzee Gordon became the youngest ever custodian of Cluny Castle, near Sauchen, when he was just 18.

Cluny Castle. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The grand residence dates back to 1604, and hosts events and weddings.

It also starred in Oscar-winning film The Queen as Balmoral Castle, and Rishi Sunak hosted a leadership visit campaign there.

Now in his 30s, the owner lives there with wife Bronya and presides over a farm, 20 homes and 2,500 acres.

He recently told Tatler magazine that life there was “an eclectic mix of old world and new”.

Cosmo Linzee Gordon at Cluny Castle. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

And plans have now been formed to turn the old Flossie’s Cottage building into a modern home.

It will be transformed to feature an open plan ground floor with a kitchen, dining area, and living room/bedroom.

Cluny Castle cottage
The building has been vacant for about 15 years. Image: Hyve architects
It would need a lot of work. Image: Hyve architects
The inside of the crumbling Cluny Castle cottage. Image: Hyve architects

There would be another bedroom upstairs in the “contemporary home”.

And an extension would be built with a boot room and accessible shower.

The red dot shows the location of the cottage, west of Cluny Castle. Image: Hyve architects

Hyve architects say: “The site is situated west of Cluny Castle within the estate grounds.

“The cottage has not been occupied for some time, and it is falling into a state of disrepair.”

Papers explain that it’s named Flossie’s Cottage after the last inhabitant, Mary Florence Robertson.

It fell vacant when she died in 2009.

Here’s how the cottage would be reborn. Image: Hyve architects
The garden room would have large windows to take advantage of the surroundings. Image: Hyve architects
The building could undergo a remarkable renovation. Image: Hyve architects

While there is no indication given of who will live in the property, the plans have been submitted by Mrs Linzee Gordon’s mum Sally Woodes Roger.

She is noted as the owner of the Cluny Castle cottage.

It comes after we revealed how councillors had safety concerns about children playing pool at Drumtochty Castle weddings in the Mearns. 

And you can see this week’s plans for yourself here:

Pennan beach house proposal

Security fence at vertical farm

Queens Road proposal

Medical practice backed

New signs for Union Street bank

Inchmarlo changes approved

Huntly garage

Drumblair House extension

Cluny Castle cottage plans