An abandoned shop will be transformed into a hotel after receiving a major cash boost as part of a Holyrood funding bonanza intended to breathe new life into north-east town centres.
The former John Trail bookshop in Fraserburgh has lain empty for a decade but proposals to convert the building will now go ahead after developers were awarded a £476,100 grant from the Scottish Government.
It is one of four projects which will now get under way as a result of the overall £1.5 million funding package, which was yesterday hailed as “transformational” for the region.
More than £700,000 from the Town Centre Fund will be ploughed into improvement works on Bridge Street in Banff, and about £243,000 will go towards a horticulture project at the former glasshouse in the grounds of the town’s Duff House.
And an extra £145,000 was secured for the Drummers Corner enhancement project in Peterhead, which involves the installation of a replacement “drum” and an upgrade for seating, lighting and new artwork.
The John Trail bookshop has grown derelict since a fire gutted the Mid Street property and in 2015 it was placed on the buildings at risk register.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
The North East Scotland Preservation Trust (NESPT) launched plans to revive it as a hotel earlier this year, in the hopes that it could help regenerate Fraserburgh.
Last night, the group confirmed that the cash injection would be sufficient to begin renovation work.
Project manager, Paul Higson, said: “It is absolutely crucial to allowing us to take the project forward. The project is now fully funded and it will be happening.
“This new source of money has made this possible it would have been quite difficult to find the money for this project without the Town Centre Fund.”
NESPT added that an operator has been secured to run the venue as a 12-bedroom hotel, and that work on a planning application for the site is under way.
Aberdeenshire Council has been awarded £709,030 to widen pavements, increase lighting, improve drainage and enhance the appearance of Bridge Street in Banff.
The revamp of the street also includes proposals to leave it open to traffic only on a one-way basis, with limited parking space to give priority to pedestrians.
Almost £250,000 has been allocated for the revamp of the former glasshouse which once made up part of Duff House.
The 19th century B-listed building in Airlie Gardens, known as the Vinery, was originally used to grow grapes until it was gifted to the town.
Council bosses hope to convert it into a community garden and a horticulture skills centre.
Glen Reynolds, a town councillor and chairman of the Banff Development Partnership, said he was “delighted” with the funding boost.
Mr Reynolds said: “It is important that what is delivered through this money will be what the local community wants.
Councillor Peter Argyle, chairman of the authority’s infrastructure services committee, added: “This money is intended to drive local economic activity, and to bring transformational change for towns and their surrounding communities by creating growth which allows them to become more vibrant, creative, enterprising and accessible places.”