Approval granted for new gardening skills centre near Banchory

The Seed Box has been granted permission to build a new gardening skills centre near Banchory to help the charity bloom.

The charity has outgrown its current base at Ballogie Estate
The charity has outgrown its current base at Ballogie Estate

Bosses at the organisation, which has operated since 2013, had been looking for a new site after outgrowing its current base at the Ballogie Estate near Aboyne.

Plans for the new site were submitted to Aberdeenshire Council back in May and include plans for a new shop, offices, storage containers, polytunnels and solar panels on land to the west of Lochside Crescent.

But the proposal divided opinion in the area.

A total of 72 people wrote to the local authority opposing the plan but 59 pledged their support.

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Objectors raised concerns about road safety and said there would be an increase in noise, pollution and litter. Nearby residents also said the plan was contrary to the Lochside of Leys Local Nature Conservation Site and masterplan.

Meanwhile, supporters said it would give opportunities to people with additional support needs and would support people in a “safe and sustainable manner”.

The application went before the Marr area committee this week.

Senior planner Neil Mair made it clear that the retail side of the plan was not a threat to other businesses in the area: “The retail is a very small part of this, it’s selling freshly grown produce on allotments for a charity group. It’s not Raemoir Garden Centre, it’s not competing with the town centre in anyway.”

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Following the meeting, Belinda said: “This new site will allow us to expand our current operation and our work helping people with additional support needs.

“We are currently in the process of securing the remaining funding we require to proceed with the project.”

The Seed Box thanked the Leys Estate and DWR for helping them with the project.