Revised plans for former Victoria Road School to create additional affordable housing
Grampian Housing Association has submitted revised plans to Aberdeen City Council which would see additional affordable homes created on the site of the former Victoria Road School in Torry.
The site was purchased in 2019 by Grampian Housing Association which is working in partnership with Torry Development Trust (TDT) to create a residential-led mixed-use community regeneration project.
Delays in progressing the project due to the Covid pandemic, well-documented construction cost increases and the ongoing deterioration in the condition of the buildings have, perhaps surprisingly, combined to create a new window of opportunity to create additional accommodation on the site.
The revised planning application proposes 55 much-needed affordable homes, an increase from the previously consented 50 units. This is achieved by reconstructing an internal courtyard area over two storeys to provide a new upper floor and reconfiguration of the community facilities all of which creates the space for the five additional homes.
The revised designs will retain all the principal elevations of the original school buildings and also reuse much of the existing granite. Damaged historic gables and other features will also be re-constructed using salvaged granite.
Craig Stirrat, chief operating officer at Grampian Housing Association, said: “We are pleased to be moving forward with this important regeneration project and to have been able to reconfigure some of the space to allow us to create extra homes which are much in demand.
“Detailed inspections revealed that some parts of the site were in a much poorer condition than was originally thought, as a result of previous fire damage and the passing of time while the site has lain empty. It was clear one of the buildings would require to be reconstructed so we have taken the opportunity to transform it into a two-storey development with a new floor.
“The result is a scheme with enhanced viability which will provide additional high quality, energy efficient residential accommodation for social rent, set within a mixed-use site containing community facilities.
“Like many social landlords, Grampian Housing Association decided not to go out to tender for any construction works for the remainder of this financial year, due to the unpredictable nature of the market which is adversely affecting construction and supply costs. The decision to wait a bit longer will naturally have an impact on the timescale for the school site but subject to the planning process, we hope to get started towards the end of this summer.”
David Fryer, lead trustee with TDT, said: “This is most welcome news. After 14 years, 2022 can be the start to bring back life into the much-loved former Victoria Road School buildings with new uses to meet local needs and aspirations in both the restored and new buildings. The architects have carefully designed these new buildings to be respectful of the character of our historic granite buildings.
“Through partnership working and cross-sector collaboration, this first community regeneration project in Aberdeen will also bring about additional benefits for Torry and the city.”
Consent is already in place for a nursery and spaces for the local community to use. Options for additional offsite facilities adjoining the site are also being explored.