Up to 275 jobs could be created in the Mearns after proposals were lodged for a £55 million development at the one-time home of Victorian prime minister William Gladstone, near Fettercairn.
“We are seeking permission for eight areas of new build, steading conversions, a stable block conversion, and restoration of all the existing buildings, which will then form a clear future revenue stream.
“Our location, equidistant from Aberdeen and Dundee, means we are not only ideally situated for the local housing market, but also for the wider commuter market.
“An equestrian centre, farm shop, museum and further use of the land to maximise its business potential will all in turn allow for the future maintenance of the estate, ensuring it does not fall into a state of disrepair again.”
The three-storey property was built around 1809 and sold in 1829 to John Gladstone, the grandfather of William Ewart Gladstone, who was prime minister four times during Queen Victoria’s reign.
The building, last used as a family home in the early 1930s, has 26 bedrooms, eight bathrooms and seven reception rooms. It features a spectacular cantilevered staircase.
Project architect Paul Fretwell, of @rchitects Scotland Ltd, believes the only way ahead for the historic estate is via an enabling development.
“Groups of historic properties of this nature are notoriously difficult to deal with successfully,” he said. “Many have been lost or just move through cycles of a lack of investment and maintenance resulting in minimal conservation.
“The historic properties and landscapes at Fasque need to have a specific use and purpose in place, ultimately as a group so they can provide for their own needs.
“The proposed plan we have is a unique opportunity to not only conserve this group of nationally significant properties and landscape through enabling development, but to deliver a long-term sustainable future as a cohesive group, providing each with a viable use.”
Proposals to build up to 115 homes, along with supporting commercial enterprises, at the 400-acre Fasque House Estate have been drawn up and submitted for approval with Aberdeenshire Council.
Fasque House Properties managing director Douglas Dick-Reid will find out within the next three months if his plans have been successful.
The development is the brainchild of Mr Dick-Reid, the driving force behind the purchase of the Georgian mansion and surrounding site last July. The plans include a mix of sympathetic new-build houses in keeping with the landscape, steading and stable block conversions to create holiday lets as well as an equestrian centre, farm shop and museum.
The revenue generated from the project would then be ploughed back into the A-listed Fasque House, formerly owned by the family of Gladstone, and the other surrounding buildings that are deemed at risk.
Mr Dick-Reid remains committed to returning Fasque House to its former glory, and has exhausted every avenue of public funding including a grant from Historic Scotland, that triggered the beginning of the ‘enabling development’ programme.
The jobs would be created through the long-term construction process and from the business spin-offs. The whole project has been estimated at taking between seven and 10 years.
“Our aim has always been to restore Fasque House to make it available for weddings, conferences and other special occasions in keeping with the elegance of the house as intended by the people who built it more than 200 years ago,” said Mr Dick-Reid. “However, financing the restoration has been exceptionally difficult, hence why Fasque House Properties is now seeking relevant approval for the enabling development proposal.”