Buchan man hopes to up hidden estate to the

A HIDDEN Estate could soon be opened up for the community’s enjoyment, thanks to Mintlaw man Hamish Watson, and his hopes to put a new lease of life into one of Buchan’s oldest treasures.

Thursday, 5th January 2012, 8:13 am

Members of the public are being asked to give their views on a proposed development at Pitfour Estate in Mintlaw, which will include the restoration of an existing Listed Temple and 3 bridges, upgrades to the path network throughout the estate and an enabling development planning in principle application for 9 residential plots to provide funding for the project.

Owner, Hamish Watson, hopes to see the beautiful estate opened to both the local community and tourists in the area, and has already carried out a great deal of community consultations, including a meeting with the Community Council.

Last week he told the Buchanie why he wanted to see this plan through: “I’ve been in Mintlaw all my life, my family have farmed in the neighbouring fields to Pitfour Estate for over 60 years so it has very much been a big part of my life,” he said.

“I knew the previous owner quite well, and he wanted to try and keep everyone out, after realising this was impossible he gave me the chance to purchase it and I simply couldn’t say no.

“Pitfour is a stunning Estate that half of the community don’t even know about, I see the occasional walker/runner/horse rider, and we have the fishing club with approximately 120 members, but my aim is to share a presently hidden gemstone with the local community and visitors to the area.

“It was the fishing club who approached me with the idea, and in the past year they have made a huge difference to the area, the Estate was overgrown, and it looked like a bottomless pit.”

On the Estate, visitors can see a run down Temple, which is currently on the “Buildings at Risk” register for Scotland, built in 1835 the interior contains a cold bath, which water from the lake once ran into. Each site visit carried to date has noted that the condition is deteriorating, and at the moment scaffolding is in place to support the structure from collapsing. The three bridges which form the vital links within the existing footpath network around the lake are also in danger of collapsing.

Having exhausted all other possibilities to fund the development, it is proposed to create 9 residential plots within the estate for private sale.

Hamish added: “The money made from the plots must equate to the funds needed for the restoration works. There is no gain of money involved at all, and members of the public won’t be charged to access the Estate. We have exhausted all of the grants available, and there is simply no other way to go ahead with this other than to have this enabling development. The plots will be approximately an acre to an acre and a half, four will look directly onto the lake.”

Both the siting and design of these plots have been carefully considered by planners and it is of prime importance to minimise the impact of the landscape of the Estate and especially on the Temple and Lake. It has also been noted that the unique location of the plots should reflect the natural environment, the quality of the Estate and be individually designed to high standards. The cost of the restoration works is estimated to be around £900,000 and monies raised from the selling of the plots will equate to this.

Not only will the proposal be an asset to it’s own merit, but it will form a link between already popular walking areas, the Forest of Deer and Aden Country Park, creating a highly impressive series of walks in an area with great cultural heritage.

Hamish hopes that members of the public will get behind the plans, and has already received great support from the members of the public.

Councillor Norman Smith has been very supportive of the plans: “This is really good news for the nearby community.

“Pitfour Estate has in the past been a ‘no go’ area, but Hamish has completely turned this around. I think what he is trying to do is excellent, and will also be an asset to the surrounding public areas, Aden Park, Drinnies Wood and White Cow Woods.

“If this project goes ahead it will be a huge asset, anything that promotes the local area is going to be good. The enabling development is something that needs to be done to make it work, and I would think the plots would be quite sought after - the houses that already exist there which were all completed by Baxter Design are of excellent quality and design.”

Members of the public are asked to go along to the public consultation on January 12, at The Garret Lounge, Mintlaw, between 2pm and 7pm. Forms will be available on the day of the event to make comment or alternatively they can be forwarded to Baxter Design.

Any comments made are not representations to the Planning Service and that when the application is Formally submitted there will be an opportunity to make representations at that stage direct to the Local Authority.

For further information contact: Baxter Design Ltd, 9 Kirkgate, Old Deer, Peterhead, AB42 5LJ, or call Kevin Smollet of Baxter Design Limited on 01771 622296.