It has proudly stood at Aberdeen’s harbour mouth, defending the Granite City from invaders and bombardment since 1860.
And now the historic Torry Battery could become home to a multi-million pound marine life visitor centre, designed to transform Aberdeen into a “world-class” wildlife tourist destination that celebrates the city’s famous dolphin population as well as its rich wartime heritage.
The Greyhope Bay project, which was originally planned for construction around the corner of Greyhope Road, closer to Girdle Ness Lighthouse, is now planned to be based at Torry Battery.
That change will give visitors a “360 degree view” of Aberdeen and the surrounding coastline.
Those behind the ambitious build, which originally had a £10 million price tag, said they decided to move their proposal to the historic artillery battery earlier this year after consulting with the public at a pop-up shop in the Bon Accord centre.
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The long-term goal of the Greyhope team is to create an expansive visitor experience, complete with a viewing platform, dining facilities, educational space and more to highlight Aberdeen’s unique position as a major Scottish city with the opportunity to spot spectacular sealife just outside the city centre.
By taking their plans to the battery, Greyhope Bay managing director Fiona McIntyre said she hopes to bring the history of the important site, which helped defend the city through two World Wars, to life.
Today the developers have submitted a planning application to the city council for the first phase of their project, “Dolphins at the Battery”, which will include a viewing platform, exhibition space, café, toilets and more.
Ms McIntyre said: “When we had our shop open we took a lot of feedback and comments from people from all across Aberdeen.
“What came up time and time again was everyone told us the best place to view the dolphins was Torry Battery and if we actually wanted to deliver our first phase and open up the possibilities for further development, that was the public’s preferred site.
“So for the past six months we have been working closely with the city council – the owners of the site – and historic environment Scotland to come up with a plan so that we can open up next year with our first phase, work together to bring about a larger, permanent development at the site and deliver on our ambitions to deliver a world-class visitor attraction.
“RSPB’s Dolphinwatch will be on site next year in the same capacity as before, so we will be working together to deliver our “Dolphins at the Battery” experience.
“So you’ll be able to come along to the battery as you have done over the past few years, watch the dolphins with your binoculars, learn more about them, and get the same educational experience the RSPB has always offered there, but with the addition of our added facilities.
“The battery is a much more elevated position that gives a much better view.
“You can look down directly on where the dolphins spend the majority of their time, just at the entrance to the harbour.
“The battery offers a spectacular view down into the city and right round to Girdleness lighthouse.
“It also has a 360 degree viewpoint, which Greyhope Bay didn’t offer.”
Ms McIntyre said that by breaking the project into phases, the Greyhope team believe they will have a greater chance of delivering a successful vistor centre and help bring even more tourists into Aberdeen.
She added: “At the moment, this proposal requires very minimal investment in order to start delivering this facility on the site next year.
“At this point we don’t have a solid idea of the costs of the future stages of the development, but the aim here is to demonstrate the viability of this project by having a phased approach.
“We want to build our audience, test viability and address potential accessibility issues.
“There are loads of new things we can do with a phased approach, which will in the end give our project a much greater chance of success.
“It’s still very much about offering a complete experience.
“We want to offer the public the chance to really connect with our coast and our incredible marine life and we still plan on creating leisure and dining spaces, exhibition areas, our viewing platform and everything else we had planned for the project at Greyhope.
“But with it now being placed within the historic surroundings of the Torry Battery, we’re marrying our original vision with many other interests, from the archaeology of the site to the architecture of buildings, to make it a site that celebrates both the human and natural history of Aberdeen.”