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Holistic and Strategic Placemaking in Aberdeen – Crown and Cottage Development

This case study examines the adoption of a holistic and strategic placemaking approach in Aberdeen, focusing on the successful collaboration and strategic planning that facilitated the growth of town centre living. The initiative is exemplified through the Aberdeen City Centre and Beach Masterplan and a specific project, the ‘Crown & Cottage’ development.

In 2022, Aberdeen City Council updated its City Living Strategy as part of the Aberdeen City Centre and Beach Masterplan. This update included an Enabling Plan with a goal of increasing city centre residents by 3,000 by 2040.

The Crown and Cottage Development saw the repurposing of an historic Aberdeen vacant category B listed building on Crown Street into three flats and one house. The project was a joint effort between the developer and various Council teams, preserving the building’s character and heritage whilst adapting for modern town centre living.

The Council’s Development Management team worked closely with colleagues in internal Masterplanning, Design and Conservation team to obtain expert conservation advice, to ensure that the special character and historic features of the listed building were preserved as much as possible, whilst managing elements of change to facilitate the conversion of the building to residential use.

Crown and Cottage Site Plan

Aberdeen City Council  observed a substantial rise in planning applications for residential conversions in the city centre in recent years. This trend is largely due to the reduced demand for office space following the oil crash and the increasing prevalence of home working. Through this experience, the Council learned valuable lessons about finding suitable compromises to address the competing interests of various consultees and stakeholders.

Early engagement among planning case officers, environmental health officers, building standards officers, and roads and waste teams, especially during the pre-application stage, has proven to be immensely beneficial. This early collaboration helps in finding optimal solutions that best accommodate all parties, recognizing that it may not be possible to satisfy every consultee, particularly when dealing with the conversion of constrained and historic buildings.

Additionally, the Council’s City Centre Affordable Housing Waiver has been positively received by local developers. Many have noted that several conversion projects that received approval and were completed would not have been financially feasible without this waiver.

Crown and Cottage Outbuilding Plans and Elevations
The benefits of taking a strategic approach to town centre living

A holistic and strategic approach, involving early and collaborative engagement with all stakeholders, offered several benefits:

  • Enhanced Problem-Solving: Collaborative efforts led to better solutions for complex problems, especially when balancing the interests of various stakeholders.
  • Efficiency: This approach streamlined the planning process, providing developers with more certainty and speeding up project timelines.
  • Quality Development: Ensured the delivery of high-quality residential conversions and new builds.
  • Strong political and senior leadership support has been instrumental. Aberdeen City Council benefits from clear direction provided by its political partnership statement, facilitating effective and focused implementation of strategic plans.
Crown and Cottage Main Building Floor Plans

Find out more about the Crown and Cottage Development here: