Community council back Tolbooth plan

Stonehaven's Tolbooth Museum is the town's oldest building.

Stonehaven's Tolbooth Museum is the town's oldest building.

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Plans have been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council for the expansion of Stonehaven’s Tolbooth Museum.

Stonehaven Tolbooth Association (STA) which runs the museum is behind the plans, which would see the building double in size if approval is given.

The 16th-century site is considered to be the town’s oldest building and is currently home to a local history museum on the ground floor and The Tolbooth Seafood Restaurant on the first floor.

The proposals are for a two-storey extension to the Tolbooth, which will allow it to house further exhibition space, a function room or cafe – or a combination of all three.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of Stonehaven and District Community Council, STA member Ian Balgowan said that the museum was looking to expand due to an increase in the amount of visitors in recent years.

He said: “We are just getting so busy. This year we easily topped 22,000 visitors, which is pretty good going considering we are open for three hours a day and run by volunteers.

“If it is possible for us to expand I think it would be a good thing for Stonehaven.”

Mr Balgowan did concede that the question of who would fund the venture for the council-owned property was still up in the air, adding that applications could be made to various places to help pay for the work.

Also in attendance at the meeting was Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Lifelong Learning and Leisure, John Harding. Mr Harding said the local authority was fully supportive of STA’s plans and added that he “greatly admired” the work done by the volunteers who run the facility.

He said: “We are certainly in support of the idea, and we will be as flexible as we can in terms of helping.

“The notion of approaching the council for funding might be more of a challenge, but we would be happy to help in any other way that we can.

“We hugely admire the work that is done at the Tolbooth.”

Members of the public have until this Friday (December 16) to comment on the plans on the Aberdeenshire Council website.

Discussions among community councillors revealed that some were not keen on the idea of a modern expansion to the category A listed building, but the group decided unanimously to back the plans.

What do you think of the idea? Get in touch and let us know. Email news@mearnsleader.com.