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Caribbean takeaway APPROVED by government despite Aberdeen neighbours’ claim boss ‘invaded garden to BBQ meals’

Elsewhere in Aberdeen, plans are afoot to save a historic church organ from ruin when its home of more than a century is sold.

The divisive Caribbean takeaway on George Street
The new Caribbean takeaway in Aberdeen has been approved by the Scottish Government. Image: Michael McCosh/DC Thomson

A hotly debated Aberdeen Caribbean takeaway has been approved by the Scottish Government, plans to cash in on Abergeldie Estate have ramped up and a special “compost toilet” could be created in Aberdeenshire woods…

All these and more feature in this week’s Planning Ahead, our weekly round-up of the latest proposals being pondered across the north-east.

Every week we bring readers a selection of the most interesting applications submitted to our councils in a bid to form changes big and small in our communities.

We start with plans to save a historic organ from an Aberdeen church poised to close in the months ahead…

Rubislaw Church organ to be salvaged – and taken 400 miles away

Aberdeen’s historic Rubislaw Parish Church is on the market for offers of about £355,000.

It’s one of many religious buildings across the city and wider north-east facing an uncertain future amid dwindling congregations.

The church is next to the Queen Victoria statue in Aberdeen’s west end. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson
There is now a ‘for sale’ sign at the front. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The Church of Scotland says the B-listed west end landmark could become a nursery, museum, art gallery or public library in the years to come.

And conversion into flats “might be possible”, if developers secure the right permission.

There is plenty space inside the large building. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

All this leaves the future of its cherished Willis/Walker/Edmonstone organ hanging in the balance.

And now, kirk leaders are plotting a way to safely remove the towering instrument from the building.

It will then be taken 400 miles south to the English city of Derby, where it will be rebuilt in the Church of St Anne.

The organ can be seen in the background here as Dayu Roosanti dances as part of the Indonesian Orchestra preforming at Rubislaw Parish Church in 2004. Image: Simon Walton/DC Thomson

Organ ‘could deteriorate very quickly’

The church warns: “If the organ remains in the Rubislaw building, unused and unheated, it will deteriorate very quickly.

“Organs ‘breathe’ and need to have air passing through them to preserve the large quantities of leatherwork and glued, wooden joints.”

Papers sent to Aberdeen City Council also explain the historic importance of both the kirk and the organ.

Rubislaw Church was built from sandstone in 1874, making it something of an anomaly in the Granite City.

Rubislaw Church is an impressive piece of architecture. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The organ was installed in 1890, though different elements have been rebuilt over the years.

Specialists from Huddersfield would be tasked with removing it, should the local authority approve the plan.

The sun is setting on many of the city’s places of worship. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

It comes just weeks after we revealed how the war memorial could be taken down and relocated from its spot at Cluny Church as the building hits the market.

Meanwhile, a few months ago, plans were lodged to remove an ancient relic from Foveran Church as it closes. 

Serviced apartment plans for Aberdeen city centre

A former office block at 110 Crown Street, just off Aberdeen’s Union Street, could be turned into three serviced apartments.

The four-storey building, erected in 1890, has been up for sale for some time and went to auction last year.

The 110 Crown Street property was formerly an Aberdeen City Council office. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Applicant Granite City Apartments is seeking permission for “minor internal changes”, with building papers showing the revamp will cost £140,000.

Architects state: “The internal layout is to remain broadly similar but for partitions to form shower rooms and some very minor structural openings to form new doors.

“A ‘modernisation’ will improve the internal appearance of the property.”

Crown Street has various guesthouses. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

It comes as developers work to transform former offices on the corner of Belmont Street and Union Street into modern flats.

Plans to extend guesthouse at Aberdeenshire distillery

Over in the Mearns, plans for a different sort of visitor accommodation are brewing…

Whisky giants Whyte and Mackay, who own Fettercairn Distillery, want to add a sun room, porch and first floor extension to a guesthouse at the site.

The guesthouse is just along from the entrance to the whisky plant. Image: Google Maps

These plans would double the number of bedrooms on the first floor from three to six.

Meanwhile, a board room on the ground floor would be turned into a seventh, creating even more space for visitors.

Drummy Woods compost toilet plans

In Tarland, an eco-friendly addition could soon be taking shape at the mountain bike trail through Drummy Woods.

Chris Redmond, of the Tarland Development Group, has submitted a proposal for a new composting toilet there to Aberdeenshire Council.

The mountain bike trails. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

Urine would drain into a “soakaway pit” beneath the structure, while there would be “vaults” about 30 inches deep beneath the woodland WC.

The toilet would be built by specialists Nat Sol, who pride themselves on their odour-free products.

The Tarland Trails have become a destination. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

There are thousands of their creations across the UK, including in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh.

A solar-powered parking meter would also be installed under the new scheme.

We went along to try out some similar “toilets of the future” when compost loos were built at Aberdeen’s Greyhope Bay.

Banff offices could become new town centre homes

Former offices on Banff’s Low Street could become flats under new plans submitted to Aberdeenshire Council.

The building, later turned into a charity shop, is next to the Mercat monument. Image: Google Maps

Murray Montgomery Partnership is behind the proposal for the former Wilson’s legal offices.

Former workspace on the first floor would become two one-bedroom flats.

A music room, meeting space and arts/crafts room on the second floor would be transformed into another one-bedroom property.

There are no plans lodged for the ground floor space. Image: Google Maps

Balmoral bridge repairs to be marked with plaque

Earlier this month, Aberdeenshire Council heralded successful repairs to the storm-damaged bridge over the Dee at Easter Balmoral.

The A-listed structure – also known as Crathie suspension bridge – dates back to 1834 and was paid for by Queen Victoria.

The scenic Dee crossing. Image: Aberdeenshire Council
Pupils from nearby Crathie Primary School recently cut the ribbon as the bridge reopened. Image: Aberdeenshire Council

At the time of its construction, it was the main access to Balmoral Castle and it was made wide enough to take carriages.

But it had been badly damaged by storms in recent years, and faced the threat of permanent closure.

The repair work was carried out by experts from Moray Blast, who now want to affix a permanent reminder of the restoration to the structure itself.

It would have one unusual feature, with the number four “reversed” to replicate an original plaque on the A-listed crossing.

Council heritage buffs have given the marker their blessing.

This is how the plaque would appear. Image: Moray Blast

Balmoral is becoming an increasingly popular visitor spot, with tickets for tours inside the castle selling out rapidly.

But villagers nearby say day-trippers visiting the famous cairn trail are causing chaos by parking on the side of the road…

Instagrammers seeking a sought-after selfie at the stunning, pyramid-like Albert cairn could soon be banned from the verges. 

Visitors using the Balmoral car park should cross the suspension bridge to reach the huge cairn built in memory of Prince Albert. Image: Shutterstock

£230,000 plans for historic kennels used on royal hunting trips

Elsewhere on Royal Deeside, a millionaire businessman is stepping up his plans to transform Abergeldie Estate into a tourism mecca.

Alastair Storey bought the expanse for £23 million a few years ago but his plans were subject to a protracted wrangle as he battled to get permission for a mansion to live in at Bovaglie.

The majestic Abergeldie Estate. Image: Fraser and Mulligan

He said he would struggle to proceed with the rest of his ambitious vision for the site without having a home (and base of operations) there.

That was finally approved by Aberdeenshire Council last month, despite concerns about Queen Camilla’s favourite view being compromised.

And now, Mr Storey has lodged more plans for some of the dozens of remote buildings dotting the rugged landscape.

There are 34 buildings across the estate. Image: Fraser and Mulligan

So what is the latest idea?

The crumbling Kennels Cottage, at Balnacroft, would become a “bothy type” one-bedroom short-term let under the most recent proposal.

Any work will “preserve the character of the original kennels”, and views over the estate will be highlighted.

There would also be decking outdoors “to catch morning and summer evening sunshine” while the structure would be done up to meet modern energy standards.

The work is priced at £230,000.

The cottage has been decaying for years. Image: WPC Architects

However, the council’s heritage experts are demanding to know more about the plans.

They say the house at Balnacroft once belonged to the head gamekeeper or “kennel master” of the estate, which the royals leased from the 1800s until the 1960s.

Here’s what it looks like inside. Image: WCP Architects

The family retained exclusive hunting rights over Abergledie until recently.

Aberdeenshire Council heritage watchdogs state: “Queen Victoria and Prince Albert built stone houses for the tenants on their estates, and it is likely the cottage and kennels were improved during this time.”

Queen Victoria on Fyvie with John Brown at Balmoral. Image: London Stereoscopic Company/Royal Collections (C)

Therefore, they say there needs to be more “robust” information supplied on how the C-listed site will be preserved during the process.

Mr Storey was last year given permission to spruce up the nearby Kennels Cottage as he embarked on his money-spinning masterplan.

He has also revealed plans to turn the neighbouring Clachanturn Farmhouse into a base of operations for hunting.

Aberdeen Caribbean takeaway APPROVED after heated battle

Back in Aberdeen, government decision-makers have sensationally overruled the council’s vote to close down a controversial Caribbean takeaway.

Caribbean takeaway George Street.
The owner of the Caribbean takeaway on George Street was refused retrospective planning permission – after a row over smell with neighbours. Image: Clarke Cooper and Ben Hendry/DC Thomson.

It’s a saga that stretches back to last year, when businessman Simon Arthurs, of Nemzblendz Limited, opened up his eatery without the right permission in place.

Neighbours soon complained…

They even said food for customers was being cooked on a BBQ in their back garden, and the venue shut just weeks after it opened.

The 693 George Street building was previously an MMA gear shop, and a nail salon. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Since then, Mr Arthurs has been fighting to secure the permission needed to reopen.

His hopes were dashed in March when Aberdeen City Council’s planning committee rejected his pleas.

The eatery is next to a pharmacy. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Battle over business goes to the top…

After that, he stepped up his campaign, pleading for Holyrood officials to overturn the decision.

Documents sent to the government explain his point of view.

Create Studio Architecture acknowledge that their client “jumped the gun” by kitting the place out and serving up food without getting planning approval.

There were fears about illegal parking outside the Aberdeen takeaway. However, these were not enough as the Caribbean diner was approved. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

But they stress that roads chiefs had no objection to it, despite concerns about parking being a hazard.

And they have sent in “detailed” reports on the mitigation measures proposed to ensure there is “no adverse impact” on residents.

University historian leads battle against rogue Caribbean takeaway

But one of those residents, Aberdeen University professor William Naphy, has also written to Edinburgh higher-ups…

And the academic urged the Scottish Government to double down on the council’s refusal.

Mr Naphy, who lives on Calsayseat Road, fears the waft of dishes like jerk chicken will still be directed up to his and others’ windows.

This shows the vent, and nearest window. Image: Couper Acoustics

He writes: “The proposal will simply vent the considerable odours to the immediate outside which means they will rise up the wall and into the windows.

“In the summer, these windows are often open to get fresh air in from the back gardens of the properties.”

It’s been closed much longer than it was ever open, but now the Aberdeen Caribbean takeaway has finally been approved. Image: Scott Baxter/ DC Thomson

The professor also slams specialists from Couper Acoustics for visiting a nearby Indian restaurant on George Street to test out their theories.

He concludes: “It is abundantly clear that the Aberdeen City Council committee was completely correct in rejecting the application.”

Politician highlights ‘considerable opposition’

And MSP Michael Marra’s office also contacted the government over it, emphasising the “considerable opposition by local residents” and urging that Mr Naphy’s views to be “taken into consideration”.

Michael Marra MSP
North East MSP Michael Marra. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

Why did government approve Aberdeen Caribbean takeaway?

On Friday, Scottish Government planning officials rendered their verdict – and overturned the council decision.

It came after a planning expert was sent to the venue earlier this month.

After the visit, Andrew Sikes said he was satisfied by the measures Mr Arthurs plans to install to minimise noise and smells.

Do you think the government official was right to overturn the local decision? Let us know in our comments section below

New George Street grocery shop could mean return to past use

A short distance away, a former graffiti shop could soon be returned to its past use as a grocery store.

The big empty space at 371 George Street. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The 371 George Street address served as a food outlet for about five decades.

It was a Northern Co-op (Norco) store for many years, and at the forefront of the “self-service” revolution in the 1960s.

This had nothing to do with beeping machines and warnings about unexpected items in bagging areas, though.

An advert in the P&J from 1968. Image: British Newspaper Archive

Back then, this meant shoppers could pick up their own groceries – rather than the shopkeeper plucking produce from shelves before weighing it and slicing off the right amount.

It later became a Spar, lay dormant for a while, and was briefly brought back to life as the graffiti art supply shop.

Here is how it looked as the art supply store. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

Now, applicant Alid Garib wants to bring the space back to life as a George Street grocery shop.

Mr Garib is also listed as a director for Aro Scotland, which runs the nearby Polish store Grosik.

It’s unclear what these plans could mean for the outlet a few yards away.

George Street on a sunny May day. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Documents sent to the council outline how the building could be changed.

There are plans to install extract fans to create an in-store bakery, while blue prints show it would come with a cold room for meat products.

The meat store and bakery sections would be to the left, while the main shop would be in the bigger adjoining unit. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Several rows of shelving are proposed and, for those with a sweet tooth, there would be a cake display next to the counter.

Read more about the past tenant’s plea to see the graffiti shop put to new use here, along with more history on the store.

You can see this week’s plans here:

Organ rescue plan at historic church

Crown Street apartments

Fettercairn guesthouse

Tarland toilet

Banff flats plan

Crathie bridge

Abergeldie Estate latest 

Aberdeen Caribbean takeaway approved despite pong fears

New grocery shop plans