Historic Peterhead building revamp reaches property awards final

The Caley Building in Peterhead

The regeneration of a listed historic building in the Peterhead Central Conservation Area has been selected to go forward as a finalist for a prestigious Scottish property award.

The former net store, commonly known as the Caley Building, on Peterhead’s harbour front had been a fishing net store. The building had lain vacant since the early 1990s and was in a dilapidated state. Ownership changed hands a number of times as various organisations failed to find a viable new use for it.

The most recent owners, Fulmor Ltd, turned to Sandy Murray of Aberdeenshire-based Burnhaven Consultants, recognising his experience in regeneration and affordable housing projects.

“There was strong support from the public and from Aberdeenshire Council to find a project that would result in the restoration of the Caley Building,” Sandy Murray said. “But, given the recent history of failed attempts to create a viable project, there was considerable wariness about getting involved.”

The Caley Building had a number of technical challenges in addition to the overall restoration requirements. Notably, restricted internal circulation space, whilst the floor to ceiling height was constrained. There was also a significant difference in ground levels between the front and rear. Historic Environment Scotland grant funding rules were based on like for like replacement but since there had been no windows in the building they could not provide a grant for new windows

How the building looked prior to its restoration

Sandy Murray’s first move was to appoint a new professional team who had experience in historic buildings.

The plans they drew up involved creating a new steel frame inside the building. This would allow space for a commercial development on the ground floor, fronting onto the harbour. Above, the team proposed three floors of residential accommodation accessed from the rear of the building. This turned the differing ground levels into an advantage.

It took three years of complex negotiations to put together a funding package to turn the project into a reality. Historic Environment Scotland was a strong supporter although it was constrained in its financial backing. Aberdeenshire Council viewed it as a priority project and also provided financial assistance.

Fulmor Ltd has retained and fitted out the ground floor, alongside the harbour, as offices accommodation.

Langstane Housing Association took over the building contract to create 15 affordable housing units. Its involvement and financial commitment was seen as the key to the viability of the overall project.

“It has been a complex project,” added Sandy Murray of Burnhaven Consultants. “But, it has been worth all the long and complex planning and negotiations to see a dilapidated historic building in the Peterhead conservation area being restored to benefit the community and preserve the historic heritage of Peterhead.”

The Caley Building project is a finalist in the ‘Best Regeneration Project’ category of the Herald Property Awards. This category is sponsored by Scotland’s Towns Partnership. The winners will be announced at an awards dinner on September 27.

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