A former Aberdeen pub has been listed for auction – casting doubt on the expansion plans of a major shopping centre.
The Balaclava Bar on Loch Street closed its doors in 2019 and has lain empty ever since.
Long-standing plans for an extension to the Bon Accord shopping centre, which were approved in 2017, would have seen the bar flattened to make way for a new hotel, as well as a roof over part of George Street.
However, the centre’s asset manager Capreon passed up the chance to buy the Balaclava when it was on the open market, and it has now been listed for public auction with a guide price of £145,000.
It is described on the listing as a “prime city centre investment opportunity” with “fantastic yield potential”.
A source close to Aberdeen City Council said any move by Capreon to acquire the bar through a compulsory purchase order (CPO) would be likely to fail as a result.
The Evening Express asked the company whether it still plans to press ahead with the expansion of the centre, but did not receive a response.
George Street and Harbour ward councillor Michael Hutchison said he suspected the approval of the expansion plans had resulted in businesses pulling out of George Street.
And he called on the centre’s owners to clarify whether they have scrapped their extension plans.
He said: “I know that the Bon Accord Centre owners have previously suggested a need to use CPOs to allow their expansion to go ahead but those are only an option where it is impossible or impractical to buy land by agreement.
“If the centre owners aren’t buying this land when it’s available then it seems to be signalling that the expansion is no longer happening.
“I think that the expansion had a lot of support from the local community and it would have been a welcome move.
“What’s particularly disappointing if this isn’t going ahead is that the local area is now worse off because of it. I suspect the plans have been at least a factor in that section of George Street losing a supermarket and a bank.
“It would be welcome if they could confirm whether they’ve scrapped their plans as it would mean the council could start looking at options to regenerate this area. It’s currently the main gateway into George Street and what we have here at the moment simply isn’t good enough.”
Last year, Bon Accord manager Craig Stevenson said the retail market had “changed significantly” since the plans for the 8,500 sqm expansion were approved.
He said: “We have put forward plans for George Street because I think there are opportunities to develop that space for both retail and other uses.
“However, since the plans were put forward, the retail market specifically has changed significantly and continues to change significantly and as a city, our need for space has changed as well.
“It’s not to say it won’t come to pass but not right now because of the market we’re in at the moment.”
However, the plans remain available to view on the centre’s website, with Capreon talking of an “ambitious project” which would “complement the landmark developments taking place in the traditional core of Aberdeen”.
The deadline for offers on the Balaclava is January 22 at 4pm.