IT’s THAT time of year again. Weather forecasters promise the first flurries of Blue Toon snow in the coming weeks and Christmas is just around the corner.
But as children write their letters to Santa and mums begin to plan their fabulous festive feasts, a dark shadow looms over the town centre which threatens to dampen that community Christmas spirit.
It’s been more than a year now since scaffolding was erected around the crumbling Chapel Street flats.
Now, as Peterhead shops and businesses prepare for the Christmas rush, this very visible eyesore threatens to ruin the shopping experience for hundreds of Blue Toon shoppers.
This once magnificent granite structure has deteriorated rapidly since the banks allegedly installed the unsightly scaffolding more than a year ago.
For many years it has been fraught with problems, with water leaking into shops and businesses below - at great expense to shop owners - and pigeons making their nests behind boarded up windows.
Not to mention its general unsightliness and restrictions on fresh air and light to the businesses below.
Popular florist Oops-a- Daisy has already moved from below the metal structure, relocating to the brighter, more accessible former Your Choice premises further down the road.
An employee said the shop had been much busier since the relocation, saying: “People couldn’t see the window displays and the shop was really dark. We couldn’t even get in about to wash the windows properly.”
And yet there seems to be no sign of the rumoured Edinburgh-based developers who bought the flats at auction earlier this year.
“It was once a lovely building,” says Peterhead resident Marion Buchan.
“The person who had it before was offered a good price to do it all up. But he never took up the offer and the current owner hasn’t touched it. It’s only gotten worse.”
So who’s responsible? Some townsfolk have suggested that Aberdeenshire Council ought to buy over the building by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) while others hope the developers might step up and transform the bleak old building into new shops and flats. Either way, something must be done.
Local businessman Steve Herridge says that townsfolk have begun to “lose faith a bit” with the way the town centre is going.
He said: “In my personal opinion, the owners should be obligated to the building’s upkeep. I’m fed up with Peterhead not achieving as well as it should.
“Look at all the other empty buildings. Peterhead has so much heritage that we should be working to maintain. It’s a potentially wonderful town and it seems to be in decline - it’s worrying.”