Proposals lodged for new Visitor Centre at Dunnottar Castle

George Pearson, owner of Dunnottar Castle has submitted a Proposal of Application (PoAN) to Aberdeenshire Council for a new £3.5million Visitor Centre at Dunnottar Castle.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 8:03 am
The Visitor Centre would comprise a café, shop, interpretation space, toilets and additional parking.

The proposals would importantly address a longstanding issue for the Castle, being the only attraction of its size in Scotland without a dedicated facility for the 135,000 (2019 figures) visitors and tourists who come to visit the cliff top fortress each year.

In addition to the Visitor Centre, a small-scale enabling housing development of 10 family homes, located immediately to the west of Mains of Dunnottar farm, forms part of the proposals. These homes, would be delivered by local house builder Fotheringham Homes and the sale of the land, would importantly bridge a crucial funding gap in the delivery of the facility.

The Castle, purchased by the Pearson family (Owners of Dunecht Estates) in 1919, and subsequently restored and opened to the public, has remained a prominent historical

landmark for over 700 years. Dunnottar Castle has become an increasingly popular attraction and in order to service this popularity, meet ever growing expectations and importantly enhance the visitor experience, the need to build a dedicated Visitor Centre has become clear.

Mr Pearson said: “I am delighted that the local community and all those with an interest in Dunnottar will have opportunity to view and comment on the proposals. My family has a long association and close affinity with the Castle, and I know that many in the local area will feel a strong attachment to it too.

“To meet growing expectations and importantly enhance visitor experience, there has been a need for some time to build a dedicated facility. Careful thought and consideration have gone into the concept and proposed design of the Visitor Centre.

“Sitting adjacent to the existing Lodge with extensive views of the Castle, the Visitor Centre would comprise a café, shop, interpretation space, toilets and importantly additional parking. Whilst this new experience would address current issues, it would also provide a platform to increase visitor numbers, which importantly also provides additional footfall for other local businesses and Stonehaven.

“An economic impact appraisal undertaken by BiGGAR Economics forecasts that the Visitor Centre will nearly double the local economic impact through increased spending and more jobs, with Gross Value Added rising from £1.5M to £2.9M.

“Overall, the proposals seek to provide a high-quality facility and new opportunities to showcase the fascinating role the Castle has played in Scottish history. Its design and the proposed enabling housing development aim to respect the importance of Dunnottar as a local landmark and the overall sensitivity of the site.”

An online consultation where all those with an interest in the proposals can view and importantly provide feedback is now live at www.dunnottarcastle.co.uk/visitor-centre-consultation

Comments should be returned no later than 5pm 24th November 2021.

The Online Consultation will be supplemented by an interactive chat session (via the project website) with the project team that will be held on the Wednesday 10th November from 5pm-8pm.

A second Online Consultation will also be held ahead of the submission of a planning application to Aberdeenshire Council.