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New owners plan ‘complete refurbishment’ of million-pound Milltimber mansion

Binghill House dates back almost 200 years, and changes are needed to avoid huge winter bills at the draughty property.

Binghill House needs future-proofed
Binghill House needs future-proofed. Image: Roddie Reid/DC Thomson

Binghill House in Milltimber is in line for a major overhaul to prevent pricey power bills, while a roofless 200-year-old Monymusk steading could be converted into a huge new dream home.

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 to form changes big and small in our communities.

We start with plans to prevent vandalism at one of the region’s most popular summertime spots…

New door needed amid vandalism fears at Stonehaven pool

The team who look after Stonehaven’s historic open air swimming pool are hoping to take pre-emptive action to protect the site from the threat of vandalism.

They say the main entrance double doors are in a poor condition, and could leave the 90-year-old attraction at risk.

Stonehaven Open Air Pool when it opened in 2023. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson
The blue doors at the front. Image: DC Thomson

Documents explain the significance of the venue, built as seaside holidays in the UK boomed.

The Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Pool charity now looks after it, while the council operates it.

Local authority chiefs want to ensure it remains “the focal point of Stonehaven’s summer”.

‘The property is potentially at risk’

This, they say, will mean replacing the bright blue doors.

They are “in poor condition, with split joints, failed repairs, missing beading, evidence of rot, poor quality wood filler repair and corroding nails”.

A joiner advised it wouldn’t be “feasible” to repair them, due to the number of problems.

A view of the attraction in 1968. Image: DC Thomson

The council adds: “It is considered that the security of the property is potentially at risk of vandalism out of hours due to the door’s condition not being robust enough to suitably withstand impact.

“Security will be improved, protecting this unique asset.”

They would be replaced in a like-for-like manner.

Plea to keep Chapelton box park in place for three more years

Nearby, in the growing new town of Chapelton, permission is being sought to keep The Boxes retail units in place on Greenlaw Road.

The 12 “retail containers” are said to “provide an important amenity within the
ongoing development” as they ensure there’s a range of shops on offer for locals.

The Boxes at Chapelton. Image: Julie Brander

Ultimately, there are hopes of creating an alternative (permanent) box park site at Geddes Square.

The containers will be relocated when this happens.

But that could be a while off, and the landowners now want to make sure they still have a place in the community.

The Replenish zero waste store and refillery pictured at The Boxes in 2022. Image: Kami Thomson / DC Thomson

When they were first approved, in 2021, conditions stipulated they should stay at Greenlaw Road for only three years.

Applicants Elsick Development Company now want that extended until the end of May in 2027.

Interested in Stonehaven planning news? Our previous instalment featured a bumper update on Dunnottar Castle visitor centre proposals. 

Kings Gate care home could be converted as pilot project pays off

Last May, Aberdeen City Council embarked on a pilot project as property bosses became increasingly eager to offload some unwanted buildings.

One of those going under the hammer was The Hollies, a former care home at 43 Kings Gate.

The building could become a large new home. Image: Google Maps

It had received no offers since being listed for sale in 2022.

The three-storey granite building was said to “require extensive works to make
it habitable”, but optimistic officers hailed its “development potential”.

The council had been trying to sell it for some time. Image: Google Maps

Listed with a guide price of £160,000, it was sold in December.

And now Mohammed Javed Akhtar wants to turn it into a large home, with six bedrooms spread across the upper two floors.

St Machar Academy Raac repairs outlined

Aberdeen’s Raac crisis has most notably hit the residents of Torry, with hundreds in the Balanagask area being cleared from their at-risk homes.

But the crumbly concrete has posed headaches elsewhere in the city too, including at St Machar Academy.

St Machar Academy. Image: Jim irvine/DC Thomson

We previously revealed how investigations had uncovered some of the material at the school.

Now, the council has revealed how it plans a series of works to deal with it.

Roof panels will be removed across the building, and replaced with a “new timber structure”.

Building papers say the project will cost £350,000.

Cornhill takeaway needs special permission

Meanwhile, in the city’s Cornhill area, the Granma’s Kitchen eatery is seeking retrospective planning permission to operate as a takeaway.

Granma’s Kitchen. Image: Google Maps

To do this, special consent is needed from the council.

Papers say the change is needed after a “dramatic change to eating out culture” during the pandemic made takeaway meals more popular.

Owners claim more people prefer takeaways these days. Image: Google Maps

Last month, the wrangle over an Aberdeen Carribbean takeaway which opened without permission was finally resolved by the Scottish Government.

Holyrood officials overturned the local decision to refuse it, and it’s now back open.

Would you like to live in house attached to Aberdeen nursery?

Mercat Homes has formed plans to turn part of the Abacus nursery building on Aberdeen’s View Road into a two-bedroom home.

Documents from architects explain that this was its original use.

When the nursery took over, they assumed control of the entire building to look after youngsters.

The Abacus venue in the Rosemount area. Image: Google Earth

But this separate area has “never been used for any functional part of the nursery”.

Documents specify this includes classes, play areas or even as a quiet place for a tired-out tot to nap.

It’s only been used to store “surplus toys”.

The plans apply to this building at the side of the large property. Image: Google Earth

So now the developers are keen to make more use of it, and their project would also involve dividing off part of the garden.

They are aware, however, of the “potential issue” of noise from occasionally boisterous boys and girls at play…

Project leaders say that, as it operates from 8am to 5.30pm, there would be no high-pitched wailing going on in the evening.

Fordyce school revamp needs rethink as works progress

In June 2022 plans to turn the old Fordyce School, near Portsoy, into a “residential teaching centre” for adults were approved.

The grammar school, originally founded in the late 16th century but mothballed in 1964, was highly regarded in its heyday.

Once described as “the Eton of the North”, it was put on the market in 2014.

The Old Fordyce Primary School will be brought back to life as an adult teaching facility. Image: ASPC.

Under the scheme, the building was to be reborn “as a place of learning – as a school, this time, for ‘grown-ups’ who want to do ‘grown-up work’”.

In September last year, work on the revamp began… But now developers are having a bit of a rethink.

The work taking place. Jill Andrews architect
The external work is complete. Image: Jill Andrews architect

How is revamp going?

All of the external fabric repairs have been completed, with new windows installed, the roof repaired and a rooflight put in.

Architects say: “Our approach throughout has been to work with the existing structure, and conserve all items of architectural merit.

“The fabric has suffered through lack of maintenance and care. The challenge now is to find respectful, innovative ways to convert this high-quality structure to form a contemporary facility.”

A historic image of the Old Fordyce School

New classrooms will still be created, with five teaching spaces being formed.

But one proposed classroom will now have a different purpose – as a bedroom for the owners while teaching courses are taking place.

The historic building will become an altogether different sort of school. Image: Jill Andrews architect

Plans to save Monymusk farmhouse from collapse after 30 years of decay

Applicant Steve Armstrong wants to turn a disused steading outside Monymusk into a large five-bedroom home.

The building has a large footprint. Image: Gerry Robb architects

The new house at Braehead would also have a drawing room, office/games room/TV room and library on the ground floor.

It has fallen into such disrepair that it has been on the Buildings at Risk Register for about 30 years.

Developers see potential in it. Image: Gerry Robb architects

Binghill House: Upgrades planned at Milltimber mansion

Occupying a prominent spot on the outskirts of Aberdeen, Binghill House dates back to 1840.

Colonel Alexander Kyle owned the estate and built the mansion as his country seat, when Milltimber was a small cluster of houses set in gardens near a train station.

Binghill House. Image: Halliday Fraser Munro

Previous owner Shona Buyers decided to offload it after retirement home plans were refused by the council – and then by the Scottish Government too.

The property, which sits in extensive grounds surrounded by trees, sold for £975,000 this April.

The leafy surrounds. Image: WCP Architects

It comes with 6/7 bedrooms, four bathrooms, a stable block and other outbuildings.

Estate agents described it as “displaying all the elegance and grandeur of the 19th century”.

Another view of the prestigious property. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Binghill House needs ‘complete refurbishment’

The owner, a Mr R Caldwell, now wants to future-proof it ahead of its 200th birthday.

Buying such a home would be a dream come true for many of us, but historic houses like this come with their issues.

The grand home is perched on a hill overlooking the community. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Architects say it needs a “complete refurbishment” to be made as “energy efficient as possible”, with a need to “drastically” cut emissions.

It may be C-listed by historians but its current energy performance certificate (EPC) is rated F, which could mean exorbitant winter bills.

To avert this risk, Mr Caldwell wants to put in a ground source heat pump, and “highly insulate” the building.

New windows will be installed too, to “safeguard the integrity of the building for future

What else is planned at historic Binghill House?

As well as improving the circulation, there are plans for interior alterations – with a billiard room becoming a large family kitchen.

This would come with an orangery extension with garden access.

A new carport would be added too, with a covered “sitooterie” on the north of the mansion.

Meanwhile, a fence would be put up around the boundaries to “contain” pet dogs and ensure “deer can roam freely”.

The entrance to the mansion. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Are you pleased to see the back of the previous Binghill House plans? Let us know in our comments section below

It comes years after plans to create a new retirement community around Binghill House were ditched.

Angry locals said plans to base elderly people up the “steep” hill overlooking the suburb would create a “geriatric ghetto”.

You can see this week’s plans here:

Stonehaven pool security upgrades

Chapelton proposals

King’s Gate care home

St Machar Academy Raac repairs

New takeaway 

Abacus nursery

Fordyce project 

Monymusk steading conversion

Binghill House upgrades planned