An empty shop in Ballater described as the “last remaining casualty of Storm Frank” could soon be back in use, five years on from when severe flooding ravaged the Deeside community.
The infamous storm caused millions of pounds worth of damage across the country, but the village of Ballater was impacted particularly badly, as the River Dee burst its banks and huge parts of the community were left underwater.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, many of the town’s shops and businesses were unable to open due to major water damage sustained.
But over the years the vast majority have been either able to reopen after repairs, or have been given a new lease of life with new owners moving in.
One of the buildings that flooded was 16 Bridge Street, located near the community’s Deeside Books shop and the HM Sheridan butcher.
It is one of the final few premises on the community’s busy high street which is still shut, as it was closed down prior to the flooding and never reopened.
The Banchory-based Wood and Wool home décor and furniture-making company has now submitted a planning application to Aberdeenshire Council to transform the property, formerly the A.B Yule toy shop and latterly the Roche ice cream parlour, into a brand new shop.
The business hopes that by moving into the new premises, it will be able to create new jobs in the Deeside community and bring a prominent building back into use.
A design statement submitted to Aberdeenshire Council by Ian Rodger Architects on behalf of the company said the ground floor of the site was “devastated by the Storm Frank flooding”, and a great deal of effort is necessary to reopen its doors.
The statement read: “Wood and Wool have shown courage to rescue this last-remaining casualty of Storm Frank, on the principal street in Ballater.
“As well as the obvious flood damage, there are structural problems on the first floor, height limitations, and pavement/door threshold issues needing to be resolved.
“Their drive to become involved within the community, and to provide local staffing opportunities, is infectious and is to be applauded. The aim is to create a high-quality shopping experience in Ballater, and maximise the potential of this currently derelict building both internally and externally.”
Scottish Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Alexander Burnett, said: “Any local business that wants to expand and create jobs has to be applauded.
“Covid has had a huge impact on life in Deeside, not unlike Storm Frank four years ago.
“But our towns and villages will be bustling again.
“There will be a big demand for independent retailers across Aberdeenshire when restrictions allow.
“Tourists and visitors will come back, and residents have undoubtedly missed the experience of shopping locally.”