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“Worker’s hotel” plan for 200-year-old Aberdeenshire inn revealed

The Old Mill Inn, at Maryculter
The Old Mill Inn, at Maryculter

Plans have been unveiled to transform a historic inn to create a “workers’ hotel” for almost 300 people during the construction of the Aberdeen bypass.

The developer behind the scheme for the Old Mill Inn said he would put the “community first” as he announced proposals to instal 132 portable units at the site.

The plans for the land at Kirkton of Maryculter have been lodged by Digs2Go – part of the Little Box Company – which will provide accommodation for 264 contractors.

Little Box’s managing director, Michael Saunders, said his vision for the Old Mill Inn was a “long-term” one.

The firm is not involved in the building of the 28-mile Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) but hopes to house workers during the construction phase – which will begins this year.

The Old Mill Inn closed its doors in November, but it will be used to serve food to workers and Mr Saunders said that when the bypass is complete the much-loved building would reopen as a bar, hotel and restaurant.

He added that throughout the construction of the AWPR the building would act as a “specialist hotel” for workers, with 24-7 security and a no-alcohol policy.

However, it would only take “corporate bookings” and not individual ones for the next three to four years.

Mr Saunders said: “We want to be part of the community.

“We’re not asset-strippers, we’re long-term investors and we’re trying to build a relationship with the community.

“We’re not going to bang out a great big facility and leave.

“We want to see the hotel prosper as a hotel. It is a well-loved facility. We’ll be here as long as it takes. We have it for the long-term.

“The building has got a 400-seat restaurant in there anyway, we’ll continue to use that, we’ll use the old building for a facility for our guests.

“Other than that it will still be a hotel. It will be slightly more specialist. Once the work has been completed and the road is open then we will probably build the extension which already has planning permission.

“We have to go through a planning process and we have to bring the community with us.”

The South Deeside road and the B9077 between Culter and Maryculter could also be in line for new 30mph speed restrictions around the site if the plans are approved.

The old building would be used to provide meals to the workers, while a car park for 275 vehicles is planned for the site in a nearby field on the other side of South Deeside Road.

The 132 portable units, constructed around the current building, would each contain two one-bedroom apartments.

More than 20 jobs are also in the pipeline for the reopening of the building.

North Kincardine Community Council vice-chairman, Robin Baxter, said about 60 people attended the group’s last meeting to find out about the future of the building.

He said: “I suppose the sort of general consensus was better the devil you know, that was the general feeling I got.

“Michael’s plans are very clear and he’s been very transparent about them.

“It’s always been a centre for all sorts of things. The community liked that. I think in general it seems the lesser of two evils.

“The AWPR is going to happen, the hotel is closed, how can we make the best of a bad job? I think everybody misses the pub, it was a local landmark.”

Mr Saunders added: “The main community concerns related to safety, particularly the main road along there, and we would completely agree with them.

“From the community viewpoint it is something new. I hope we are able to reassure people.

“We want people to see it as an extended hotel. It is a high quality facility. We’ll listen to what people want.”

Digs2Go provides accommodation for major infrastructure projects across Scotland.

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