Slains Castle redevelopment halted

The planned redevelopment of the ruins of Slains Castle near Cruden Bay are to be delayed due to the economic downturn.

The Edinburgh-based Slains Partnership was awarded outline planning permission in August 2007 to develop the 16th century castle into 35 holiday flats.

It was hoped that full planning permission would be granted at the end of 2008 with the construction work starting this year. Aberdeenshire Council has not yet received a detailed planning application.

Douglas Forrest, the architect behind the development, admitted that the project had suffered due to the recession but insisted it would still continue.

He told the Buchan Observer: "The current economic situation has impacted on things as it has with everything really. Movement has been slower than anticipated but it is still very much going ahead."

The Slains Partnership and Mr Forrest are to finalise a detailed application which will illustrate the design and appearance of the final development.

In December 2008, full planning permission was granted to change an access road to the site.

Mr Forrest said: "We have just got planning consent documents for the alteration of road access in the past few weeks.

"The first thing we are looking at now is purifying the conditions laid out in the outline planning consent. Without the detailed planning consent the only work on site will be the undertaking of non-destructive archaeological surveys."

Local residents were against the proposed plans when they were first discussed in 2004, with many wanting the castle to be preserved as a reminder of the history of the Cruden area.

Slains Castle was rebuilt in the 1590s on the cliffs at Bowness by the barony of Erroll. The castle is said to have inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Bram Stoker was a regular visitor to the area and often stayed in the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel or in cottages in Port Erroll and Whinnyfold.

Mr Forrest's practice Acanthus Architects specialises in the imaginative re-use of historic and listed buildings.

He said: "I can categorically state that there has never been any proposal to demolish any part of the building.

"I know there has been a lot of concern surrounding the development but that has never been any part of any proposal to do with the Slains Partnership."