A historic lodge on a royal estate could be transformed into a new gift shop and ticket office.
Visitors to Balmoral have wandered past the Gate Lodge at the entrance to the grounds for more than 100 years.
Now plans have been put forward to demolish the existing ticket office and turn part of the B-listed building into a gift shop.
A statement lodged with the plans by Moxon Architects said: “The existing ticket office is undersized for its needs and detracts visually from the Gate Lodge and surrounding buildings.
“It also restricts access to the rear of the property and leaves no parking space for residents. Removal of the building will benefit both the visual amenity of the B-listed group and allow for the re-instalment of the driveway and access to the Gate Lodge property.
“Moving the ticket office and gift shop into the Gate Lodge brings back something of the original function to the building, allowing it once again to serve as a proper gateway to Balmoral Castle and its grounds.”
People who visit the estate can access the formal and vegetable gardens and the exhibitions in the stable area, as well as the largest room in the castle, the ballroom. All other rooms within the castle are not available to the public.
Since 1852 the estate has been a favourite holiday retreat for the Royal Family.
It was privately bought by Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert and has been passed on through generations in the monarchy.
The Gate Lodge is thought to have been designed by William Smith in 1858, an architect from Aberdeen who designed the castle.
Councillor Peter Argyle highlighted the importance of the estate to the local economy and its pulling power for tourists.
He said: “Balmoral is a huge attraction there’s no question about it.”
He added: “The folk working there are very committed to bringing in more people.”
The building is currently used as rented accommodation, which would continue in a smaller capacity if the plans are approved.