The way was today clear to transform a historic department store into a restaurant after plans were approved.
Aberdeen City Council officers have approved a change of use application to renovate the city’s former Esslemont and Macintosh department store – despite stating the local authority would prefer a retail chain to occupy the building.
The decision, which was made by council officers rather than councillors, comes five months since the plans were first lodged by developers Castlecall to turn the department store into an eatery.
The plans for the building include the installation of new timber-framed shop front windows on the southern, eastern, and western side of the building at ground floor level.
All of the existing windows above ground floor level are also to be fully refurbished.
In a letter sent to Castlecall, Daniel Lewis, development management manager at Aberdeen City Council, said: “The existing building has lain vacant for several years and given its derelict state, it is considered appropriate in this instance to permit a change of use to food and drink at the ground and basement floor levels, despite the policy preference for retail in this city centre location.
“The proposals would allow for the listed building to be brought back into use, helping to secure its future whilst also enhancing the viability and vitality of this section of Union Street.
“Subject to conditions, the proposed use would not have any detrimental impact on the amenity of the area and it is therefore considered to be acceptable.”
Esslemont and Macintosh closed in May 2007 when owners Owen Owen went into administration.
The closure brought 107 job losses after 134 years of trading.
The building was then placed on the Buildings at Risk Register in 2013 and remains on it.
Castlecall was unavailable for comment.