Ambitious plans for a £20million marina at one of Aberdeenshire’s most scenic ports have been scuppered.
Aberdeenshire Council wants to shelve the proposals to redevelop the historic Stonehaven Harbour into a new-look quay, claiming it is “not a viable proposal”.
It comes five months after Stonehaven Town Partnership’s hopes to rejuvenate the spot were dashed following a feasibility study by PJ Consulting and Associates.
The report outlined a number of options – the most ambitious of which was to create a marina at the harbour at a cost of between £10million and £20million.
Now the council’s director of infrastructure services, Stephen Archer, has ruled the option out for good.
In a report to the Kincardine and Mearns area committee, he urges councillors to back his stance and states: “At this time, the redevelopment of Stonehaven harbour as a marina is not a viable proposal”.
However, the planning chief is urging councillors to back a number of findings from the feasibility study for any potential projects at the harbour in the future.
Last night David Fleming, chairman of the STP, accused the council of rejecting the idea of redeveloping the harbour without addressing “the real problems”.
The group managed to secure £22,500 of funding for the study from the Aberdeenshire European Fisheries Fund and the local authority.
The port has been making a financial loss on an annual basis, and the group had hoped to breathe new life into it in order to attract more visitors.
Other ideas from the STP to regenerate the harbour had included creating a sailing school, diving school and yacht club.
Mr Fleming added: “We published this report away back in September time. As far as we are concerned the project is now dead.
“Essentially the report came to the conclusion that we expected – that a very significant amount of work needs to be done on that harbour and somehow we have got to find a way of getting the funds for it.
“At the moment there is no support from the harbour board to do anything. STP undertook this work at the behest of Aberdeenshire Council and we are disappointed that the result has not been accepted by the harbour community.
“I don’t mind people saying our plans are not very good, provided they come up with something which tackles the real problem.
“The real problem is that the harbour wall is in danger of being breached. We have done what we can.”
PJ Consulting and Associates’s report had also suggested upgrading existing harbour infrastructure, constructing a new breakwater or leaving the port as it is.
However, it concluded the immediate focus should be on creating a new outer breakwater to protect the port from storms.
The company highlighted the poor state of the harbour walls and piers, adding new pontoon berths should be brought in.
Stonehaven councillor Raymond Christie last night admitted the marina project was “never really on” from the start.
He added: “It is like anything else just now, money is quite tight over all of Aberdeenshire. The marina was never going to happen from day two.
“I think if there was going to be a marina, there was going to be lots of changes to the harbour and that would cost a lot of money.
“There is work needing to be done in the harbour over the coming years because it is like anything else, until you spend a wee bit of money on it, it deteriorates.”
Mr Archer said a lot of work is currently being carried out around the harbour, with the public toilets recently refurbished to include showers.
Plans are also in the works for wi-fi and another shower at the harbour slipway.
Councillors will discuss the report when they meet in the town on Tuesday.