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Aberdeen’s The Foundry pub blocking off entrance to ‘keep rough sleepers out’

There are claims staff have had to put up with anti-social behavior at the Holburn Street institution.

The Foundry says staff have had to endure "anti-social behaviour" and "clean up toilet mess" after rough sleepers made use of the doorway.
The Foundry says staff have had to endure "anti-social behaviour" and "clean up toilet mess" after rough sleepers made use of the doorway. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

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

Every week we bring readers the latest plans brewing across the north-east – with everything from new houses or shops to the occasional issue sparking controversy in communities.

This week we feature plans lodged by The Foundry pub in Aberdeen to block off the entrance overnight, amid claims it is being used by rough sleepers.

But before we get to that, we have another historic west end office becoming housing, a famous north-east pub being turned into Airbnb-style accommodation and plans to open a new coffee shop in Torry.

Office could become ‘exemplary’ three-bedroom west end home

We start with the plans to turn an old office building into a new home, which is a recurring theme in this area of Aberdeen.

The 11 Victoria Street building, just off the junction of Alford Place and Albyn Place, was formerly the home of Scullion Law and Co and latterly the Hampton creative agency.

The former office hasn’t attracted any commercial interest. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The 19th Century townhouse was turned into offices in the 1970s, with an extension added in the late 1980s.

But reverting it back into housing has proven easier said than done…

Have a look around inside the old workplace:

Plans to turn it into a pair of flats were first lodged in 2020, but they were eventually refused last April as planners said they wouldn’t get enough sunlight, or have enough garden space.

Last summer, that decision was overturned on appeal.

But since then it has changed hands, and now the new owner is having to apply for fresh permission to transform the building.

The building could become an impressive family home. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Applicant Nicky Turnbull wants to turn the townhouse into a three-bedroom home, with the two-storey rear extension serving as a separate two-bedroom property.

Architects say the front part would be a “quality city centre home”, with the garden area being done up.

A single cherry blossom tree would be planted in there, to “animate” the frontage.

Cherry blossom trees are beginning to come to life across Aberdeen at this time of year. Image: Shutterstock

Revamped office would ‘show how fine city living can be’

Meanwhile, the “mews-like” rear extension is likened to “numerous similar properties found in Edinburgh New Town”.

The rear office will become a separate home under the plans. Image: Google Maps

Architects add: “It is envisioned that the potential users of the front house would be young professionals who may be seeking a house near the city centre where they could both live and work and enjoy the facilities.

“Victoria Street amply demonstrates just how fine city living can be.

“The rear may well appeal to a similar demographic, but perhaps at an earlier stage of life or career… and perhaps those embarking on family life.”

Flexible workspace? Office to become new Aberdeen pilates studio

A short distance away on Albyn Terrace, plans to turn old office space into a new pilates studio have been approved.

The studio will open in this rather ornate looking office building. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Reform Physio and Pilates is run by certified expert Laura Patterson, who works from Cults.

Now, she has been given permission to start work on the lower ground floor of the ornate office block.

Laura Patterson at her Cults base. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

The unit at 1-3 Albyn Terrace unit will be used for physio appointments and pilates classes.

Our Planning Ahead round-up in late January revealed the proposals. 

If you’re thinking of joining, here’s a video to help with some practice:

Bridge of Don MOT testing centre

Meanwhile, over on the outskirts of the city, the former Emco plant hire building could become a new MOT testing centre.

The site just off Whitestripes Road. Image: Google Earth

The plans for the Lower Bodachra site at Bridge of Don have been lodged by Marcin Garbacz.

Marshalls Farm Shop to install hundreds of solar panels

Last month, Marshalls Farm Shop was given permission for a new tractor play area and £50,000 drive-thru lane. 

Now, owners Kenneth and Moira Marshall have more plans to enhance the spot just off the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road at Kintore.

Farm shop owners Kenneth and Moira Marshall. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

They want to extend a storage building in order to install an array of solar panels on the roof.

Meanwhile, scores more would be put in place on a slope nearby.

In total, 750 would be catching the sunlight at the site.

The solar panels would be affixed to the building at the rear of the site, and on the slope beside it. Image: Google Earth

Major plans for Inverurie rugby club to expand town centre base

Nearby in Inverurie, Garioch Rugby Club needs a new venue to accommodate its expanding membership.

And there are hopes it could help tackle vandalism too.

The Kellands Park group has seen its numbers soar from 350 to 900 over the last four years, and now has 18 teams – with players ranging from four to 74 in age!

It also runs a weekly cafe offering free food and drink, stages language lessons for Syrian refugees and hosts fundraising nights.

Papers sent to Aberdeenshire Council state: “Continued growth of the club is expected and demand requires to be met.”

The existing pavilion was repurposed from a pagoda and public toilets and the new hub would provide quite an upgrade.

The Kellands Park pitch. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

It would be revamped into a fitness suite, strength and conditioning suite, treatment rooms and changing rooms – all to “support elite athletes”.

A new building will offer more space and meeting rooms.

It would also be built in a manner which offers “no recesses of dark places to loiter”, which “will hopefully discourage antisocial behaviour”.

Here is how the new building could look. Image: McWilliam Lippe architects
There would be space for other sports inside. Image: McWilliam Lippe architects

Problems include changing room issues and no space for stretchers

The papers say there are “several issues” with the existing facility, mentioning energy efficiency, plumbing and wiring.

They add: “There are only three changing rooms, which is incompatible with the mix of adults and children, male and female.

“There is only one small referee changing room which is insufficient for a premiership team which involves three match officials and may be a mix of male/female.”

Meanwhile, there’s no room for stretchers in the first aid room.

Here is how it would look from the pitch, with a terrace for people to take in the action. Image: McWilliam Lippe architects

The new building would change all that, while also offering space for basketball, gymnastics and disabled sports inside.

It could even be used as a community cinema.

But it would result in a “small area” of current open space being taken over, which could be a hurdle in seeing the plans come to life.

Is vandalism a problem?

In the past, the rugby club has hit out at “idiots” causing mayhem in the public park.

It’s claimed that Kellands Park is a hotspot for loutish behaviour. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

An incident in 2020 made headlines when broken glass was strewn in front of the clubhouse and changing rooms, and a number of broken bottles left on the pitches.

Writing on Facebook, the organisation said: “The broken glass on the pitch and tarred area makes it a very dangerous place for young kids, dogs and rugby players.”

Keithhall Church to become home

Sticking with Donside, we can reveal that plans to turn the closed Keithhall Church into a unique house have been approved by Aberdeenshire Council.

Proposals, which first featured in Planning Ahead in December, will see new life breathed into the B-listed 18th century structure.

The final service was held in 2017.

Keithhall Church. Image: McWilliam Lippe architects

New owner Colin Brown has pledged to change it “as little as possible” with his careful home conversion scheme.

The main principle will be ensuring it “doesn’t fall into further disrepair”.

The building has lain vacant for years. Image: McWilliam Lippe architects

Pews will be removed from the body of the kirk to form an open plan living area, with a kitchen, dining and living room – and even space for a pool table.

The seating area on the upper floor would be transformed into the master bedroom, while another two bedrooms would be formed on the ground floor.

The ground floor plans. Image: McWilliam Lippe architects
And here is how the upper level will look. Image: McWilliam Lippe architects

Council planners said the alterations would not “harm the integrity of the building”.

Similar plans to turn Leslie Parish Church into a home were sealed not long ago – despite concerns the “peace and contemplation” of the graveyard would be disturbed.

Meanwhile, the nearby Bourtie kirk closed just before Christmas.

Stonehaven care home needs new windows to keep operating

Stonehaven’s Clashfarquhar House Care Home began life as the town’s Bay Hotel in 1903.

Overlooking the seafront, the Robert Street destination can be seen from all over the community.

The prominent building. Image: DC Thomson

It was handed to the Church of Scotland to operate as a care home in the late 1960s.

Earlier this year, its owners commissioned a study on rickety windows at the C-listed building, with experts finding that 58 need to be replaced.

They have been “condemned” as “beyond economic repair and not fit for purpose”.

You can see the Bay Hotel in this image taken in 1948. Image: Aberdeen Journals

Most windows can’t even open…

Architect Deborah Anderson said about 85% had been “over-painted” so much that they don’t even open.

Those on the east face the coast and have decayed after years of being blasted by wind and sea salt.

An illustrated letterhead for Stonehaven Bay Hotel featured in an exhibition from north-east archives. Image: Aberdeen City Council

She adds: “The window frames are constantly wet and this has caused further inefficiency to allow day light, and also keep the rooms warm for the elderly residents.”

Care homes need “openable” windows that are free from leaks or drafts to comply with Care Inspectorate guidelines.

Permission is now being sought for the changes to the historic building.

Banff’s famous Ship Inn pub to become short-term holiday lets

Something of a saga has unfolded over Banff’s Ship Inn pub in recent years…

The bar, which featured in Local Hero as the interior of the fictional Macaskill Arms, closed amid the pandemic.

The Ship Inn on Deveronside in Banff. Image: Paul Glendell/DC Thomson

Its owner began work to tear it apart, hoping for permission to turn it into a cafe and flats.

That was approved in late 2022, despite famous film critic Mark Kermode and legendary Scottish actor Denis Lawson bemoaning the loss of a part of cinema history.

The Ship Inn’s ‘iconic’ pub featured in the 1983 film Local Hero. Image: Aberdeenshire Council

But there was more to come.

After that, it was put up for sale.

At that point, it was picked up by Wayne Stewart, who runs Macduff’s Knowes Hotel just a few miles away.

And he wanted to turn it into an self-catering holiday lets. 

The Ship Inn in Banff and Knowes Hotel owner Wayne Stewart.
Knowes Hotel owner Wayne Stewart is cooking up plans for the Ship Inn… Image: DC Thomson

How will the pub change?

Under his vision for the premises, the ground floor would be turned into four self-catering suites, with another four built upstairs.

All of which brings us to the latest update, with his plans now approved by Aberdeenshire Council.

The pub has been taken apart. Image: Aberdeenshire Council

Local authority planning chiefs said it was “unfortunate” that the interior of the traditional, C-listed inn had been changed over the years.

They agreed that Mr Stewart’s plans would not “undermine the architectural
appearance, historic character or setting of the listed building”.

Torry shop could be turned into cafe

An empty unit in Torry could be turned into a coffee shop offering a range of sweet treats.

Glasgow-based Michael Robertson wants to revive 79 Victoria Road.

The unit was advertised for sale. Image: Google Maps

It was formerly a cafe called The Torry Teapot, and latterly a Polish grocery shop.

But it has lain vacant for the past few years.

He wants to turn it back into an eatery, opening at 9am to serve freshly brewed coffee and operating until 9pm for people who to stop by for a fancy piece in the evening.

Do you have memories of the Torry Teapot? Image: Google Maps

The shop has been advertised to rent for £55,000 per year.

It comes weeks after plans to reopen the shuttered Taylors of Torry grocery shop were lodged. 

And nearby, a former fizzy drinks factory could be converted into a whisky distillery.

Foundry entrance changes after ‘rough sleeper problems’

The Foundry pub has been given permission for changes to its entrance after reporting problems with “rough sleepers” causing problems.

Owners Stonegate sought retrospective consent for changes already made to the Holburn Street bar.

In a statement sent to Aberdeen City Council, pleading for the shutters to remain in place despite their unauthorised installation, they explained the need for them.

The Foundry pub at 41-43 Holburn Street has apparently suffered problems with rough sleepers. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

‘The Foundry entrance has attracted rough sleepers’

The documents stress that “many windows and doorways along Holburn Street and other nearby streets have external roller shutters on their windows and doors”.

This, they say, “confirms the need for enhanced security in the area”.

The Foundry entrance way has offered a sheltered spot overnight in the past. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Consultants Bidwells write: “The covered recessed entrance at The Foundry has attracted rough sleepers, and led to the Stonegate Pub Group having to address this matter to improve security of the property.

“A gate was previously installed in front of the doorway, but people climbed over it.

“The gate also caused the area to become a dumping ground for chip papers, pizza boxes as well as a place to wait for lifts and taxis out of the rain.”

The bar is at the far south end of the city centre conservation area, where any sort of development is subject to strict scrutiny. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

They even claim the entrance door has been “ripped open on several occasions” when rough sleepers have seen the The Foundry’s cleaners arriving and “jumped the gate to try to access the toilets”.

‘Staff shouldn’t have to clean up toilet mess’

And the papers say people have been filmed on CCTV “carrying out anti-social
behaviour, both in the darkness and daylight” in the doorway.

They add: “Such activity was recorded at least three times a night over six/seven nights.

“The Foundry staff have to access their place of work via this doorway thus creating a significant risk to their health and safety.

“They should not have to clean up other people’s toilet mess before opening in the morning.”

Rough sleepers plea helps persuade council over The Foundry plans

Local authority planning chiefs have now given the pub permission to keep the roller shutters in place.

They said the argument about security was “not considered to be sufficient justification”.

The entrance to The Foundry which has allegedly been used by rough sleepers. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

But they add: “The supporting statement does go on to provide evidence that the recessed entrance has caused issues specifically for this premises, in that it has attracted rough sleepers and anti-social behaviour.

“The applicant has stated this is a health and safety risk for staff.

“These elements of the supporting information would be considered suitable justification for the use of a roller shutter door at this specific location.”

Dons chairman Dave Cormack pulling a pint at the grand reopening of The Foundry following  a revamp in October.  Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The rough sleepers plea comes after The Foundry underwent a major makeover late last year. 

The bar now boasts more television screens for live sports coverage – including a TV screen outside for smokers.

You can see the plans here:

Office could become home 

New pilates studio 

MOT centre

Marshalls Farm Shop solar panels

Garioch Rugby Club plans

Keithhall Church changes approved

Stonehaven care home windows 

Banff’s Ship Inn to become holiday homes

Torry coffee shop plans 

New Foundry doorway plans to deter rough sleepers