Prince Charles to revamp empty Aberdeenshire shop… And open it as a restaurant

Prince Charles speaks to residents in Ballater earlier this year amongst the devastation in the wake of Storm Frank
Prince Charles speaks to residents in Ballater earlier this year amongst the devastation in the wake of Storm Frank

Prince Charles is poised to breathe new life into an empty prime site shop in the heart of a Deeside community.

The Duke of Rothesay will play a key role in proposals to transform the vacant former Co-op store in Ballater’s Netherley Road into a “pop-up” restaurant.

It may even sell products from the prince’s own Highgrove brand.

Plans for a change of use for the premises – which were vacated along with the Bridge Street Co-op when the retailer moved to a larger store in Golf Road – have already been lodged with Aberdeenshire Council.

And last night, locals said the development would be a major boost for the village, which was devastated by flooding during Storm Frank at the turn of the year.

In Ballater alone, with 307 homes and 60 businesses were wrecked.

The duke was the driving force behind the redevelopment of the village’s flood-hit caravan park, which reopened earlier this month.

Prince Charles launched his own flood appeal after witnessing the destruction caused by the River Dee bursting its banks, donating a large sum of money and encouraging local business people to contribute.

Aberdeenshire singer and entertainer, Robert Lovie, is a spokesman for the Duke of Rothesay’s Deeside flood appeal.

He said: “Ballater is so close to his heart that he wanted to help. He put a chunk of money in the pot and myself and other people encouraged local people to put money into the fund as well.

“The restaurant would be set up temporarily until other things in Ballater, such as the station and other businesses, get back on their feet.

“We thought it was a nice thing we could achieve quite quickly, like the caravan park, to keep the local community going.

“There were two things he wanted to do very quickly to make an impact, it is a great part of where he lives in Deeside.

“He has headed-up this flood appeal.

“The first thing we thought we would do very quickly was at the caravan park and he generated that whole revamp.”

Mr Lovie added the money was “waiting, ready to get started” for the restaurant project, with a lease already secured.

The venue – which has not yet been given a name – could open later this year.

Mr Lovie – who annually gives a rendition of God Save The Queen in front of the royal family at the Braemar Gathering – said the duke was “passionate” about the project.

He added: “There are plenty of tea rooms in the village, but no big restaurant in particular.

“We are just waiting for Aberdeenshire Council to confirm the planning and hopefully we can start getting the work done inside.

“There may be a small Highgrove shop in the restaurant as well.”

Last month, the duke was linked with a pop-up Highgrove tea shop at the former McEwen’s of Perth outlet in Ballater’s Bridge Street.

In recent months, flood-hit businesses including Sheridans Butchers and the Ballater Golf Club have reopened.

Vice-chairman of Ballater Community Council, Jim Anderson, said: “This is the first I have heard of it, but that is definitely a positive thing for the village.

“The village is popular, not just because of its location, but because of the royals, and something like this will definitely draw tourists.

“This could help regenerate the village, which is what this year is all about.”

Alistair Cassie, the owner of Cassie’s hardware store in Bridge Street, was equally enthusiastic.

He said: “It would be a good place to have a restaurant, there is a demand for that, I think.

“I think that would be a good idea, there is easier parking there, so it is not a bad plan.

“Business at the minute is still a bit slow, and it is difficult to gauge in the village if it is the recession or due to the floods or a bit of both.

“Prince Charles has been excellent for the caravan site.”