Dec 032015

Port Erroll SlainsBy Mike Shepherd.

Aberdeenshire Council are currently reviewing the conservation area status of Port Erroll, a village area of Cruden Bay that contains the harbour for the town.
Port Erroll is a 19th century fishing village lying beneath the shadow of the ruins of Slains Castle.

It retains much of its original character and has so far managed to avoid any unsightly new buildings.

It is therefore surprising that when the villagers were consulted about the conservation area status, they were given a questionnaire which started:

“Do you agree with the removal of the conservation area status? If not, why?”

There was little in the way of explanation as to why the conservation area status might be removed by the council.

I talked to one of the planning officers and was told that it was under consideration. For instance, there were concerns that the original character of the houses had been materially changed by the fitting of PVC windows rather than the stipulated wooden sash window design. It seems that the use of PVC in the village had either been approved by the council themselves on planning application or had been carried out without permission.

Many of the residents are upset at the idea that the consultation area status could be removed and have formed a heritage society in response. What lies at the heart of all of this is the definition of a conservation area in Scotland:

“An area of special architecture or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.”

The implication is that if the conservation area is removed then the character and appearance of the village will not be considered desirable to preserve or enhance. The villagers share a strong feeling of both place and local pride. They feel very strongly that this would be seriously undermined if their own council judge the appearance of Port Erroll to be not worth bothering about.

If the conservation area status is removed then it makes it more likely that development in the area will go ahead. One controversial proposal for the village could be sanctioned if the conservation status goes. This is the draft plan aired by the Port Erroll Harbour Trust to build a two storey modern building on the site of the harbour drying green. The anticipated use of the building includes a tourist office, bistro, harbour office and rather ironically under the circumstances, a heritage centre.

Port Erroll is one of 41 conservation areas in Aberdeenshire and the council has plans to review several more including Buchanhaven (Peterhead) and Boddam. What the Port Erroll example shows only too clearly is the need for closer cooperation between the council and its citizens. They should work together with the aim of preserving of unique historical legacy of Aberdeenshire and to preserve its wonderful heritage for future generations to enjoy.

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  5 Responses to “Port Erroll: Aberdeenshire’s Heritage Under Threat”

  1. We the Trustees of Port Erroll Harbour are intrigued by the narrative contained in the foregoing article to the effect that the Trustees have a “Draft Plan” for a Visitor – Heritage Centre and other related accommodation at Port Erroll Harbour.

    There is no such ‘draft plan’ and whoever provided you with the information has miss-informed you.

    It might have been better before going public, had you contacted the Trustees and established the accurate position regarding this matter.

    The Trustees are trying to save the Port which has been a working Registered Port since 1872. The Harbour currently runs the grave possibility of being totally lost if there are no further extensive repairs and maintenance carried out. It has been professionally estimated that the Port requires a £2.4 million pound investment.

    The Trustees in carrying out their fiduciary duties are looking at a range of ideas to develop robust revenue streams so that the Port can attract funding packages that will in turn secure the long term future of the Registered Port.

    One of the ideas that is being considered along with others is a Visitor – Heritage Centre.

    If any of the ideas were to become a possible viable project then all the relevant outcomes from a public consultation process would be an inherent part of any final design. It really goes without saying that full recognition of any Conservation status – requirements that may apply at the time of any proposed planning application would also be taken fully into account.

    You will also know that there have been several award winning waterside developments carried out in Conservation Areas in Scotland,

  2. Interesting article. Thanks. ” Heritage Centre” or not, it does make a point about how strongly most local peopIe feel about the retention of the conservation area status of Port Errol. It is a “living” village with a strong sense of community. When referring to a draft plan by the Harbour Trust of building a two storey modern building on the drying green, I wondered whether you refered to the following?

    • No proposals? Funny the producers of the video say this : iCreate produced this Flyaround and Interior Walkthrough Animation to show the proposed visitor-heritage centre for Port Erroll Harbour, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

      GO FIGURE!!

  3. Build a heritage centre on whats left of the drying area. No way, that area is part of the beauty of the port. Leave it alone.

  4. As a regular Visitor to Cruden Bay and its environs, a Visitor/Heritage Centre strategically sited would be boon to the area, although just how that might contribute to the Trustee’s estimated £2.4 million redevelopment of Port Erroll Harbour is not immediately clear to see. The Centre might be better placed beside the shop on the right of the road into Port Erroll, perhaps even providing the shop with updated premises to lease with the footfall from the Heritage Centre helping to offset any additional rent the new premises might warrant. With respect to the Conservation Status of Port Erroll itself I think that is warranted and would be counter productive to consider its removal

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