Banff and Buchan Area Committee celebrates a partnership journey

Councillors have applauded the collective efforts of communities, businesses and Aberdeenshire Council through a range of innovative regeneration projects undertaken in Banff, Macduff and Fraserburgh.
The report highlighted successes such as Fraserburgh 2021, the successful town centre regeneration of the Faithlie Centre, Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub and harbour investment in the town.The report highlighted successes such as Fraserburgh 2021, the successful town centre regeneration of the Faithlie Centre, Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub and harbour investment in the town.
The report highlighted successes such as Fraserburgh 2021, the successful town centre regeneration of the Faithlie Centre, Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub and harbour investment in the town.

Members of the council’s Banff and Buchan Area Committee were recently given a detailed reminder of all the outstanding works and initiatives undertaken in the three towns as they marked completion of the regeneration programme.

Amidst a range of challenges over the years – most notably the Covid pandemic – reports highlighted successes such as Fraserburgh 2021 and the successful town centre regeneration of the Faithlie Centre, Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub, the Friends of Tarlair development in Macduff, the Vinery in Banff, along with harbour investment in Fraserburgh and Macduff.


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Since 2016, Aberdeenshire Council - together with public, private and third sectors – worked hard to bring about strategic change within the physical, economic and community environments of the Broch.

The Fraserburgh Regeneration Development Partnership was formed to oversee the community-led regeneration and has played a major role in securing and developing the town as a vibrant economic and service centre.

2021 saw the unveiling of the landmark Faithlie Centre on Saltoun Square following significant investment and redevelopment. Work on the project to provide space for a range of council services and facilities for community and civic functions including the Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub whose officers provided free advice, support and a free-to-use workspace to businesses and entrepreneurs.

The restoration was a key project in the development of the Fraserburgh 2021 Regeneration Scheme and has been led by Aberdeenshire Council in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, among others.

Another of the priorities has been the conversion of the long-time derelict and fire-damaged former John Trail bookshop into an 11-bedroom boutique hotel. It is the first phase of the hotel project being led by the North East Scotland Preservation Trust and supported by Aberdeenshire Council. Future phases may also see the conversion of the neighbouring former Clydesdale Bank building into a restaurant and bar facility and additional rooms.

Aberdeenshire Council also supported a number of transformational projects including traditional shopfront restorations on High Street and considerable works at the much-loved Penny Schoolie which is receiving replacement windows, masonry and roofing repairs.

There was also the Kirk Brae Public Realm Improvement Scheme, improvements and repairs to the iconic Saltoun Mausoleum & Temperance Fountain and the creation of ‘Glover Birthplace’ - a permanent memorial to Thomas Blake Glover in the form of a Japanese-themed courtyard garden within the Conservation Area at 15 Commerce Street.

Thanks to all this regeneration activity, Fraserburgh earned the coveted title Most Improved Place in Scotland in the 2021 SURF Awards which showcases success in responding to regeneration challenges in communities across Scotland.

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Meantime, Aberdeenshire Council is continuing to co-develop with the community, a new vision and masterplan for the beach area in Fraserburgh. The waterfront is a much-loved asset in the town and has seen a steady increase in use over the past few years. Well known for its surfing, it is felt that more can be done in the area to support local economic growth and health and social wellbeing outcomes in the town, but without compromising the wonderful natural setting and environment.


In Banff, one of the key focuses was on the regeneration of the historical B-listed Vinery into a valuable community resource. The former greenhouse, which previously served Duff House, had been on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland for many years.

But following a community-led consultation and an award-winning design programme, the building has been transformed into a bright, modern and accessible community hub for the residents of Banff and beyond operated by Aberdeen Foyer. The GrowBanff@TheVinery project has enjoyed a significant phase of growth and development and now offers a wide range of workshops and other activities for the community to get involved with.

The Vinery continues to provide social outcomes and opportunities for people to try new things, develop confidence, learn life skills and broaden their experiences in a welcoming and accessible facility. Activities are largely focused on improving health and wellbeing through mindfulness, exercise, therapeutic sessions, training and accredited learning.

Elsewhere in Banff, September 2018 saw the opening and launch of the Centre for Excellence in Silversmithing and Jewellery run by Vanilla Ink. The Silver Smith establishment has brought back the silversmithing heritage to the Aberdeenshire region and has been well received by individuals, communities and business.

A conservation-led regeneration scheme on the town’s Bridge Street was also undertaken with the aim to regenerate the Bridge Street and Low Street areas of the town centre. The scheme was delivered between 2014-2019 with a total investment of more than £1.7million. The main focus of the scheme was the repair of, and in some instances the reuse of, key buildings in these locations which were in a poor state of repair and having a detrimental impact on the Conservation Area. The vision of this scheme was to rejuvinate the town centre making Banff a more attractive destination.


Macduff Harbour was identified as a key asset for the town's development with a masterplan created in 2015 which identified a number of improvements required to enhance the facilities for harbour users and boost the harbour's economic outlook. The upgrades included cosmetic improvements such as painting the lighthouse and other fixtures and making the harbour more accessible with a new road layout and additional parking. Fish landing regulations were relaxed, and to support the fishing sector, a chill room, an ice plant and a forklift were installed. Most recently Cradle 4 underwent an upgrade to increase the width capacity of the cradle to accommodate the servicing of larger twin-hulled boats.

In 2016, the Macduff Regeneration Action Plan provided funding to support an options appraisal aimed at exploring the feasibility of future development proposals for the aquarium. This appraisal laid the groundwork for a strong Levelling Up application that received funding support from the UK Government following a competitive bid process. The "Cultural Tides: North Sea Connections in Aberdeenshire" project will see the renovation and expansion of the Macduff Marine Aquarium building while improving the quality of its commercial offerings.

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The town also benefited from Macduff Small Grants Scheme which made visual improvements to targeted properties on Shore Street and Duff Street which proved a great success.

And at nearby Tarlair, Aberdeenshire Council brought in a respected conservation and design engineer who laid out a 3-phase conservation plan to restore the site. Friends of Tarlair then secured a 99-year lease through a community asset transfer in 2020 and continue to work hard to secure the necessary funds to restore the site. The pavilion block, when complete, will house a café and community space, capable of accommodating a range of activities, including musical evenings, heritage talks, small celebrations, and film nights.

Reflecting on the completion of the regeneration programme, Cllr Doreen Mair, chair of the Banff and Buchan Area Committee, said: “I am hugely proud of the regeneration works we have completed in Fraserburgh, Banff and Macduff but I am conscious that our work here is far from done. There is more we can achieve for our residents and businesses, but we have to be realistic and accept that there will be challenging circumstances ahead.

“There are still inequalities within our communities which requires a more embedded place-based approach and that is exactly where our focus will lie in the future. However, we are working from a position of strength now and this programme and all our partners involved in delivering it to-date has provided a firm platform from which we can spring forward.”