Estate development could create up to 275 new jobs

Pictured is an aerial view of the estate.

Pictured is an aerial view of the estate.

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A £55million development project in the grounds of a historic Aberdeenshire estate could create up to 275 new jobs.

Plans to build up to 115 new homes along with supporting commercial enterprises at the 400 acre Fasque House Estate in Fettercairn have been drawn up and submitted for approval with Aberdeenshire Council.

The enabling development is the brainchild of Fasque House Properties managing director Douglas Dick-Reid who was the driving force behind the purchase of the Georgian Mansion and surrounding site last July.

The plans include a mix of sympathetic new build houses in keeping with the landscape, steading and stable block conversions to create holiday lets as well as an equestrian centre, farm shop and museum.

The revenue generated from the project would then be ploughed back into the A-listed Fasque House, formerly owned by the family of Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone, and the other surrounding buildings that are deemed at risk.

Mr Dick-Reid remains committed to returning Fasque House to its former glory and has exhausted every avenue of public funding, including a grant from Historic Scotland, which triggered the beginning of the enabling development programme.

The jobs would be created through the long-term construction process and from the business spin-offs. The whole project has been estimated at between seven and 10 years.

“Our aim has always been to restore Fasque House to make it available for weddings, conferences and other special occasions in keeping with the elegance of the house as intended by the people who built it more than 200 years ago,” said Mr Dick-Reid.

“However, financing the restoration has been exceptionally difficult hence why Fasque House Properties is now seeking relevant approval for the enabling development proposal.

“We are seeking permission for eight areas of new build, steading conversions, a stable block conversion, restoration of all the existing buildings which will then form a clear future revenue stream.

“Our location, equidistant from Aberdeen and Dundee, means we are not only ideally situated for the local housing market but also for the wider commuter market.

“An equestrian centre, farm shop, museum and further use of the land to maximise its business potential will all in turn allow for the future maintenance of the estate ensuring it does not fall into a state of disrepair again.”

The three-storey property was built around 1809 and sold in 1829 to John Gladstone, the grandfather of Sir William Gladstone, who was Prime Minister four times during the reign of Queen Victoria and a regular visitor to Fasque.

The building, last used as a family home in the early 1930s, has 26 bedrooms, eight bathrooms and seven reception rooms.

It features a spectacular cantilevered staircase.

Mr Dick-Reid hopes to find out within the next three months if his development plans have been successful.

Project architect Paul Fretwell, of @rchitects Scotland Ltd, believes the only way ahead for the historic estate is via an enabling development.

“Groups of historic properties of this nature are notoriously difficult to deal with successfully,” he said.

“Many have been lost or just move through cycles of a lack of investment and maintenance resulting in minimal conservation.

“The historic properties and landscapes at Fasque need to have a specific use and purpose in place so ultimately as a group so they can provide for their own needs.

“The proposed plan we have is an unique opportunity to not only conserve this group of nationally significant properties and landscape through enabling development, but to deliver a long term sustainable future as a cohesive group, providing each with a viable use.”