National Trust for Scotland chiefs have lodged plans for five homes in the shadow of a key Angus attraction.
The heritage body hopes to site the houses on the former Millfield Garden Centre, close to the William Adam-designed House of Dun, near Montrose.
Plans recently lodged with Angus Council state the project will bring the brownfield land beside the A935 Montrose to Brechin road back into productive use and clear the “visually offensive” site of dilapidated and dangerous asbestos-ridden buildings.
It could also deliver an economic shot-in-the-arm for the crisis-hit body, which is facing a multi-million pound shortfall in income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Redundant for many years, the garden centre site was the subject of approval for two new homes more than a decade ago but the plans were never progressed.
Architects say the new layout has been designed to replicate agricultural steading buildings in Angus, with a centralised courtyard feel to the development.
Bounded to the south by the A935, the 0.81 hectare site will require decontamination before any development can take place.
In the supporting statement for the project, Dundee-based RDA Architects say: “Trees have grown through the remains of the derelict buildings and it would be virtually impossible to clear the asbestos and possible oil contamination from the root structure of the self-seeded trees.
“To remove the contamination, it would be necessary to demolish the buildings, remove the trees and scrape the site. All large asbestos sheets would require encapsulation with removal by specialists.
“The soil removed from this section would be required to be stored on-site for specialist analysis and subsequent removal to a licensed facility.
“The soil on the eastern half would require similar treatment, although the contamination appears to be less. The decontaminated areas would be suitable for housing development.”
The consultants add: “The non-intensive, low scale development of this site, in conjunction with an impressive and appropriately sympathetic, yet compliant design will ensure that the National Trust for Scotland will make a welcome and necessary use of what is a redundant and potentially, visually offensive site with dangerously dilapidated buildings posing a clear health and safety risks.”
The William Adam-designed House of Dun to the west of the planned development is a jewel in the crown of the Angus NTS offering.
Plans were approved earlier this year for a transformation of the mansion’s grounds to tell the story of the county, with the courtyard of the A-listed property to be converted into a space for exhibitions and costume storytelling alongside a coffee shop and retail units.
However, with the organisation facing a multi-million pound shortfall due to the pandemic and the prospect of some NTS properties not re-opening until 2022, the House of Dun project currently remains on hold.
It is hoped the redeveloped area will also be able to display items from the former Angus Folk Museum collection at Glamis, which was closed by the NTS in 2014 after problems were discovered with the fabric of the historic cottages.
The former museum has since re-opened as a gallery for local artists to showcase their work.