Back from the dead – holiday flats plan for ‘Dracula castle’
CONTENTIOUS plans to transform the ruined “Dracula” fortress of Slains Castle into holiday apartments have been resurrected – eight years after locals first warned that the development will “drive a stake through the heart” of the historic landmark.
The spectacular ruin, perched on the high cliffs near the Bullers of Buchan, was home to the earls of Erroll for almost four centuries. Bram Stoker is reputed to have written at least part of his Gothic horror classic, Dracula, while staying at nearby Crookit Lum Cottage in 1895, the home he used as a summer retreat for almost 20 years.
In 2004, developers the Slains Partnership, sparked a public outcry when they first unveiled plans to restore the ruins – said to have provided the inspiration for Count Dracula’s Transylvanian fortress – and turn them into 35 holiday apartments. One local resident said: “To inhabit the castle would destroy its very being – a sharpened stake driven through its very heart.”
But Aberdeenshire Council’s planning authority granted the development company outline planning permission for its £6 million plans to transform the 16th-century fortress, which has been on Scotland’s buildings at risk register since 2004.
Now the developers have put their proposals for the future of the castle out to public consultation for a second time. Under Scotland’s new laws, the outline planning permission already granted for the scheme will expire next month.
The Slains Partnership is planning to hold a public exhibition of the development plans as part of a “pre-application consultation” process.
Ian Gallacher, the planning consultant for the scheme, said: “This is a renewal of the previous outline permission. It is the exact same scheme that was granted previously but the council is within its rights to grant, refuse or set conditions on the renewed application.”
Mr Gallacher added: “We don’t know when the scheme might go ahead. It didn’t happen in the previous years – a time when banks would actually lend money for property development and who knows when it will happen.
“This is a paper exercise to ensure that the planning permission remains on site.”
Sandy Allan, the chairman of Cruden Community Council, said views on the proposed development within the local community remained polarised.
He said: “At the present time there is so little information about what is happening that I doubt that people will have changed their views.
“At the moment the castle is crumbling and is fenced off and local people would like that to change. But I don’t think the idea of turning the castle into holiday homes was particularly popular. We would like to see a development in keeping with the character of the place.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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