Plans to transform a historic Mearns home into a hotel as part of a multi-million-pound golf resort have been abandoned after being deemed financially unsustainable.
FM Group is behind the redevelopment of the Ury Estate, near Stonehaven, and had secured permission to transform the upper floors of Ury House into a hotel.
But following the oil downturn, the firm decided to revise the plans and create 19 luxury apartments instead.
The project is an enabling development, meaning it will help fund 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Championship Golf Course at the centre of the estate.
Council officers have now granted listed building consent for the flat plans.
Documents submitted by the FM Group state: “The current economic climate triggered by the sudden downturn in the oil and gas sector in 2014 has had an unprecedented impact on the hotel market and particularly occupancy and room rates within Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and wider Grampian area.
“There are currently in excess of 7,600 bed spaces alone within Aberdeen City of which one third were empty in 2018, and to develop two entire floors of Ury Mansion House adding only five bedrooms is not a financially viable option, nor one which offers a secured long term sustainable use for Ury Mansion House.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s planning boss Stephen Archer said in his decision: “The 19 apartments are considered an attractive opportunity for owner occupation or rental, boosting the local profile of the area and making a positive contribution to the local and wider economy.
“The economy in the local area is not particularly conducive to justify a single hotel offering – therefore the retention of rooms in the walled garden with the bulk of Ury House’s upper floors now proposed to accommodate flats would offer a more deliverable and viable development for the applicant.
“The spirit of restoration, backed by an enabling case, remains.”
Work on the golf course, designed by retired pro Jack Nicklaus, is due to begin later in 2020 and is expected to take three years. A clubhouse is to be created on the lower ground floor of Ury House.
Visiting golfers and tourists will also have the choice of staying in a 32-bed boutique hotel within a walled garden in the development.
Planning documents have also revealed that the majority of the re-construction works of Ury House are now complete with the new structure of steel frame, concrete floors and roof with roof coverings in place.
A new approach into Stonehaven from the Netherley road is also on the cards with proposals for a new road at Ury Estate.
Kirkwood Homes has applied for permission to create a link road at land adjacent to East Lodge.
The proposed layout shows the road cutting through the Polbare tree belt and continuing downhill and slightly westwards, before joining with the east link road at a give way junction west of the lodge.
The existing B979 road would be blocked to traffic by bollards and become a shared footpath and cycleway.
The estate’s original property, Ury Mansion, burnt down in 1645, and was completely rebuilt as Ury House in 1855 by architect John Baird.
Ury was acquired in 1648 by Colonel David Barclay, whose son Robert used the mansion as the north-east headquarters of the Quakers.
- December 1989: Building preservation notice served, after Ury Estates Ltd planned to demolish the house.
- May 1990: External inspection reveals the house to be roofless and ruinous.
- April 2002: The house and grounds are sold to FM Developments Ltd.
- December 2006: Proposed £40million restoration and redevelopment of Ury and surrounding land turned down by councillors stating that the proposed 138 houses was over ambitious.
- June 2008: Plans for hotel, leisure and housing development approved by Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee.
- August 2008: FM Development plan to restore Ury House and create the golf course “as priority.”
- February 2009: The company behind the development goes into administration but hope remains to sell the estate and continue with the proposals.
- 27 April 2012: The Ury Estate bought from administrators appointed after the collapse of FM Developments.
- April 2016: Plans for an £80million pound golf course at the Ury Estate approved by Aberdeenshire councillors.
- February 2018: Developers launch plans to build a boutique hotel at Ury House
- January 2020: Plans lodged to build 19 “high quality” apartments above the clubhouse of the hotel, replacing proposed hotel rooms