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Aberdeen youth hostel sold for £1.5m could become plush villas

Meanwhile, a Texan wants to transform a Banff Coastguard building into a home...

There are plans lodged to turn the former Aberdeen Youth Hostel back into homes.
There are plans lodged to turn the former Aberdeen Youth Hostel back into homes. Image: Ben Hendry/Michael McCosh

A closed youth hostel could be converted into new Aberdeen villas, the resurrection of a derelict Aboyne hotel continues apace and plans to turn an Ellon garage into a church have been blessed by officials.

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 do up an Aberdeen city centre pub found to have a bit of a ramshackle roof…

Justice Mill Wetherspoons spending £500k on repairs

Any recent passersby might have noticed work taking place on the Justice Mill Wetherspoons at the top end of Aberdeen’s Granite Mile.

It comes as the chain spends more than £500,000 on renewing its roof, reporting that it had “failed”.

There’s a bright blue sign advising Spoons fans that the bar is still open. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Meanwhile, “rotten” windows are being repaired and replaced. Papers say they are “leaking and in a bad state”.

More plant equipment is being put on the Union Street roof during the project, while an “unsafe” gable chimney is taken down.

The Wetherspoons branch is next door to the under-construction Glitch venue, formerly Budz Bar. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Wetherspoons states: “Following an inspection by a structural engineer this gable is unsafe and is to be taken down as an emergency as soon as safe access can be arranged.”

Severe storms are to blame for the damage.

A seagull’s-eye view of the roof. Image: Google Earth

The council has now signed off on changes to the listed building dating back to the 19th century.

And the work should be complete by June.

These plans come after the pub’s interior was spruced up, and following the approval of plans for a rooftop garden.

Management say the changes “show Wetherspoons’ commitment to the city”.

The bar was done up this year. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

New security gate and CCTV for Rolex shop

Elsewhere in the city centre, Jamieson and Carry are proceeding with plans to breathe new life into a pair of neighbouring units.

The jeweller has already turned a shop across the road into a Tag Heuer boutique, and is now working on transforming the former All Saints shop next door.

Here is how it looks at the moment. Image: Denny Andonova/DC Thomson
The new area will become home to luxury watch brand Rolex. Image: Nason Foster Limited

This will become a new Rolex store.

And, what with such pricey products on offer, beefed up security measures are now being proposed.

What changes are being suggested?

Bosses want permission to install new CCTV, and a gate at the entrance.

They will also “alter the swing” of a fire exit door, so that it instead opens outwards.

Workers have been spotted at the scene in recent days. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

In March, bosses told us why they felt investing more than £1 million in the city centre was a wise move.

Fresh hope for long empty site of demolished motel

Meanwhile, new plans have been lodged for the site of a demolished motel on Hareness Road in Aberdeen.

Lauries Motel closed many years ago, and the flattened site has been vacant for about a decade.

The building on the Altens Industrial Estate lying mothballed in 2004. Image: Simon Walton/DC Thomson
The motel just off Hareness Road. Image: Simon Walton/DC Thomson

In the intervening years, different plans have come and gone.

One scheme to build an office block there emerged in 2014, but never made it off the drawing board as the downturn kicked in and demand dwindled.

These striking plans were lodged for the area. Image: Robertson Group

Finally, the land could be brought back to life, if a new vision for it is backed by the local authority.

Kangaroo Self Storage wants to erect a huge hangar at the spot.

Here is how the site looks today. Image: Google Earth

The firm was founded in Dundee in 2005, and now has sites all over the UK.

Forms sent to Aberdeen City Council explain that their service is used by small businesses, students and people moving house.

These images show how the large building would look. Image: Kangaroo Self Storage

Pennan villager furious about plans to turn shack into ‘beach cabin’

Plans for a modern addition to the old-fashioned row of cottages along the Pennan shoreline have been quashed after coming under fire from the next door neighbour.

We reported on the plans for the beach cabin being lodged back in March.

Here is how the hut would look. Image: Ritchie architects

David Ritchie, a director of Bryggen Business Services, wanted to demolish an old garage to make way for the Shore Street structure.

But Alex Campbell, who owns The BoatHouse property next door, lodged an objection calling for it to be rejected…

‘Quaint fishing village has retained its character’

Mr Campbell said it would have a “significant and negative impact” on the amenity of his home.

And he said the modern structure would not fit in with the traditional area.

The letter states: “Many visitors come to Pennan for its association with the film Local Hero but also because it represents a largely preserved, quaint fishing village that has maintained its character.”

Mr Campbell also fumed about the predicted pollution coming from a wood burning stove included in the blueprints.

He adds: “It is clear from the height of the stove pipe that the fumes will enter our home.”

This shed would have been demolished to make way for the cabin. Image: Google Maps

Planning chiefs have now binned the proposal for the hut, which would have been 2.8 metres wide, 7.2 metres long and 4.2 metres high.

They agreed it would “adversely impact” the neighbour.

Banff Coastguard building faces new future as home

A former Coastguard building in Banff could be turned into a two-bedroom home offering stunning views across the sea.

The Battery Green site sold for £42,500 when it went under the hammer last year.

The building could be given a bit of an upgrade. Image: Allsops Auctions
The living room would have some impressive views. Image: Allsops Auctions

It was hailed as having a range of possible alternative uses.

Now, owner Stuart Paterson has tabled plans to add an extension and turn it into a house.

The hilltop home would overlook Banff Bay. Image: Google Maps

Mr Paterson, whose address is given as Dallas, Texas, would turn the former observation room into a living room.

The staff area would become a bedroom, while the extension would create space for another.

Beekeeper’s hut plans backed

Aberdeenshire beekeeper Robert Bryczek has been given permission for a new hut at a forest near Alford.

Papers sent to the council explain that he uses the scrubland there as a “location for beehives”.

There’s some sweet news for a north-east beekeeper this week. Image: DC Thomson

The small cabin would be built near Causeyton Croft Cottage, at Tillyfourie.

As the former forestry patch is close to the historic Tillycairn Castle, permission had to be sought.

Any new building near a historic monument would need special permission. Image: Google Maps

Ellon garage to become church

Over in Ellon, plans to turn a disused garage building into a church have now been approved.

The RCCG Living Truth Church submitted the proposals for the Union Lane premises this year.

The Union Lane garage in Ellon. Image: Google Maps

Given the past use, experts had to determine whether the land could be contaminated before the council could decide on the changes.

Specialists determined that there would be no issues with the transformation, and chiefs have now given the scheme their blessing.

The religious group have run out of space at their current premises just yards away. Image: Google Maps

It comes days after Ellon fast food fans had their prayers answered – with McDonald’s getting official permission for a diner in the town.

Every window in crumbling hotel to be replaced as plans ramp up

The fate of Aboyne’s Huntly Arms Hotel has been well documented in recent years.

For anyone who hasn’t been following the twists and turns: After residents raised fears the long-vacant property was at risk of collapse, it became a crime scene…

The Huntly Arms Hotel as it looks today. Image: Denny Andonova/DC Thomson

When the owner sent architects to look over the building they discovered it had been used as a cannabis farm.

Perhaps this was something of a wake up call, and since that time the proprietor has won over residents by setting out on a major revamp.

Work taking place at the building. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

A few months ago, we revealed that progress was being made, with several parts of the project approved.

And now another piece of the puzzle appears to be falling into place.

‘Most windows are over 100 years old’

Documents from Sir Specialist Joinery and Contracting explain how every single window in the C-listed building could soon be replaced.

They add: “It is assumed that most of the current single glazed sash and case windows are in excess of 100 years old.”

Scaffolding has been erected around the hotel. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The papers say there is “clear evidence of rot” in many of the windows. Others are decaying, draughty and let in noise from the street.

This report concludes: “The clients are totally refurbishing the hotel and are fully committed to its rejuvenation, whilst respecting its listed building status.

“This includes replacing every window in the hotel that is visible from all front and side elevations with new white painted timber sash and case windows.

“There will be significant thermal benefits to the property, and the aesthetics of the building will be greatly improved.”

The building was given a modest makeover by locals as it lay gathering dust. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Will Donald Dinnie window be restored?

And what, fans of the venue might wonder, of its most famous window?

The “Donald Dinnie window” in the bar is something of a local legend, depicting the famed Birse-born strongman throwing the hammer.

The impressive window seen here in the hotel’s heyday. Image: Supplied

Volunteers managed to board it up as the hotel fell into ruin, protecting it from any possible vandalism.

The new documents say it will be “retained in its current position”, with any refurbishment needed taking place while work on the rest of the windows is carried out.

Moves to ‘help nature recover’ along River Dee tributary

Nearby, the Ballogie Estate has been given permission to “renaturalise” a 540m stretch of the Cattie Burn, near Banchory.

The work comes after the waterway was “modified and ecologically degraded” in the past.

A straightened section of the burn would be returned to its original “meandering” state. Image: Google Maps

Works planned will create a “meandering channel” which connects better to its floodplain, meaning enhanced wetlands and habitats.

More than £233,000 in government funding has been awarded to the scheme.

The Cattie Burn is an important tributary for spawning Atlantic salmon and a nursery for young fish.

Aberdeen youth hostel could become new west end villas

The former youth hostel on Aberdeen’s Queen’s Road could be braced for a new lease of life as two villas years after falling empty.

The Hostelling Scotland mainstay became a victim of the pandemic when it shut in 2021.

We reported on the closure a few years ago. Image: Michael McCosh/DC Thomson

The 65-bed site joined the group’s network in September 1957 and had been welcoming guests for more than 63 years.

It was put up for sale for £1.5 million the following year.

The building on Queen’s Road. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The building was originally a double villa designed by city architect John Rust for grain merchant Alexander Keith in 1895.

It became a single mansion under the ownership of Aberdeen Grammar School in 1933, with a large extension to form a boarding house.

In 1957 it was turned into the hostel.

Take a look inside with this visitor’s video:

How would Aberdeen youth hostel become villas?

Now, it could finally be reverted to that original purpose.

The plans have been submitted by businessman Mark Cavanagh, who is listed as a director of several firms.

Generations of guests have fond memories of the venue. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Documents sent to Aberdeen City Council explain: “This change will allow 8 and 8 ½ Queen’s Road to move forward as individual villas, as they were originally intended, which will help preserve them for future generations.”

The work carried out in 1933 and 1957 would effectively be undone as the building is turned back into two villas.

Some early work appears to be under way already. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Would you like to see more west end buildings turned into housing? Let us know in our comments section below

Nearby, there are hopes that another Aberdeen landmark could find a new use.

Rubislaw Parish Church is on the market, as kirk bosses save money by closing buildings.

Last week, Planning Ahead detailed proposals to save its historic organ from decay by removing it from the building. 

You can see this week’s plans here:

Justice Mill Wetherspoons

Watch shop changes

Plans for former motel site

Pennan beach hut refused

Banff Coastguard building

Beekeeper cabin approved

Ellon garage becoming church

Huntly Arms Hotel latest

River restoration project

Aberdeen youth hostel to become plush villas