George Pearson says the exciting proposals would importantly address a longstanding issue for the Castle, being the only attraction of its size in Scotland without a dedicated facility for the 135,000 (2019
figures) visitors and tourists who come to visit the cliff top fortress each year.
In addition to the visitor centre, a small-scale enabling housing development of 10 family homes, located immediately to the west of Mains of Dunnottar farm, forms part of the application.
These new homes, which have been designed to create an attractive development that is well screened by existing and proposed landscaping, would be delivered by local house builder Fotheringham Homes.
The sale of the land to Fotheringham Homes would crucially bridge a funding gap in the delivery of the visitor centre and allow works on the centre to commence from the outset.
The Castle, purchased by the Pearson family (Owners of Dunecht Estates) in 1919, and subsequently restored and opened to the public, has remained a prominent historical landmark for over 700 years.
Dunnottar Castle has become an increasingly popular attraction and in order to service this popularity, meet ever growing expectations and importantly enhance the visitor experience, the need to build a dedicated visitor centre has become clear.
Commenting on the application, Mr Pearson said: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those individuals and local groups who took the time to provide feedback on the proposals at Dunnottar.
"That feedback, alongside now completed environmental and technical studies, has helped shape and inform the final planning application.’’
‘’As I have said from the outset, to meet growing expectations, accommodate increased visitor numbers and importantly create an enhanced visitor experience, there has been a real need, for some time, to build a dedicated facility.
"Careful thought and consideration has gone into not only the concept but also the proposed design of the visitor centre, given its unique and historic setting.’
‘’Sitting adjacent to the existing Lodge with extensive views of the Castle, the visitor centre would comprise a café, shop, interpretation space, toilets and additional parking.
“Further to addressing current issues, it would also provide a platform not just to increase visitor numbers to Dunnottar, but also to increase footfall for other local businesses within Stonehaven and beyond.
“The economic benefits will be very significant. An appraisal undertaken by BiGGAR Economics forecasts that the visitor centre will almost double the economic impact through more jobs and increased spending, with the Gross Value Added rising from £1.5M to £2.9M.
‘’Crucially the proposals will provide a high-quality facility and new opportunities to showcase the fascinating role the Castle has played in Scottish history’’.
Should the application be approved, work on the new visitor centre could start by Summer
2023 welcoming its first guests in late 2024.