An Aberdeen church’s plans to make their building more accessible have been rejected – after planners said they would look “alien”.
St Mark’s Church, on the northern side of Rosemount Viaduct, dates back to 1892.
Earlier this year it lodged a planning application to create an external stairlift, allowing more people to ascend the six steep steps leading to its front door.
But Aberdeen City Council has refused the application for a number of reasons, including the visual impact the equipment would have on the street.
Its ruling reads: “Whilst the proposal would not pose a conflict with the function and amenity of neighbouring uses, the siting of the proposal would be out-of-keeping with buildings in the surrounding area and therefore would pose a tension with the character of the surrounding area which gives rise to an adverse public visual amenity impact.”
It added that the wheelchair hoist would have a “great impact” on the Union Street conservation area.
The congregation of St Mark’s, who had hoped the hoist would help a variety of people visit the church, said they were “disappointed” at the decision.
Treasurer Alex McConochie said: “We have a lift inside the building which we can only access from the back door.
“We have had a couple incidents where people with disabilities have turned up at the front and couldn’t get up the steps, so decided a platform lift might be an idea to allow people with any mobility issues to be able to worship.”
The council report said the type of stairlift proposed would look “alien” in its historic surroundings.
It pointed to a number of other nearby buildings, including Central Library, where accessibility changes had been “undertaken sensitively” rather than introducing equipment “in stark contrast to the architectural style of the building.”
Mr McConochie added: “We would have thought the council would have a more sympathetic view.
“It would not have been a huge piece of kit, and the council’s comment about how it would damage the look of the building is frankly nonsense.
“The hoist would have been hidden from view behind a pillar anyway.
“We were quite disappointed, we can lodge an appeal and have a month to decide whether to do that – it would be costly.”
Local councillor Bill Cormie was unable to comment due to his role on the council planning committee, but confirmed he has “put the issue” to the head of the group.