Port Erroll Heritage Group says new café would be detrimental to the harbour's special character

A heritage group is objecting to the plans for a new café next to Port Erroll Harbour.

By Kevin McRoberts
Monday, 9th August 2021, 10:41 am
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 10:41 am
The site of the proposed new café was previously used for drying salmon fishing nets. (Photo © Anne Burgess cc-by-sa/2.0)

The Port Erroll Heritage Group does not believe a café built using steel shipping containers and cladding is acceptable on open green space within a conservation area defined by a historical 19th century fishing village.

The group says that it takes an active role in promoting the historical identity of the conservation area, which is located in a part of Cruden Bay made famous throughout the world by the frequent visits of Bram Stoker and the writing of Dracula there, and it claims its objections echo the concerns felt by many residents in the village.

The cafe and car park is planned for a strip of grass which once provided a drying green for the nets of the fishermen using the harbour.

The group points out that the wooden poles that supported the nets are still standing, creating an iconic and special view which can be seen from afar. It believes a café built on the site would jar with the appearance of the surrounding old buildings and would stand out as intrusive on a highly visible part of the open coast as seen from Cruden Bay beach.

Lisa Shearer, the group’s chairperson, said: “We concur with a report written by Aberdeenshire Council which sets out the importance of the Port Erroll Conservation area. It is crystal clear about such planning proposals. The council recognises that ‘the character of the Port Erroll Conservation Area is greatly shaped by the open spaces available to be enjoyed’.

“The report also states that ‘we will refuse planning permission and/or conservation area consent for any development, including change of use or demolition, which would have a detrimental effect on the special character or setting of a conservation area. We will only approve new development wholly or partly within a conservation area, subject to other policies, if... the design is of the highest quality, and respects and enhances the architectural, historic and visual qualities that give rise to the designation.’

“We heartedly agree with these statements, and our view is that a new café built from modern materials on a historical fishing green can in no way be considered as enhancing the visual qualities of the area. We urge the councillors to reject the plan on this basis.”