Covered in peeling paint and surrounded by overgrown playing fields, New Aberdour Primary School may not look the most attractive proposition.
But beneath the decay, its new owners see the potential to create their dream home.
Salma Hayat, an international businesswoman who lives in England, bought it for £66,000 at auction last year.
She is eager to relocate to the north-east and wants to convert the building into a plush residence.
Whereas some owners might have wanted to demolish the old school to start afresh, she is determined to take on the “challenge” of renovating the expansive single-storey structure.
Under her vision, one old classroom will become a home gym and another will be turned into a master bedroom.
Meanwhile, another class would become a “south wing” available to be rented out separately.
The school closed in 2009 and had been used as a community facility afterwards, but has become somewhat unsightly since being vacated in 2018.
A spokesman for the businesswoman said villagers had offered Mrs Hayat, her husband and their children a “lovely warm reception” when they visited to discuss their plans.
‘It’s going to be a challenge’
He said: “The family has roots in the north-east of Scotland and frequently visits the area, and wants a permanent base there.
“When the school went on the market they saw it as a perfect opportunity.
“The school is a site many people are fond of, there’s a lot of history there.
“There’s no doubt it’s going to be a challenge, it is a bit of an eyesore just now, so we are hoping this will be a positive end to the saga for this building.
“It can be brought back to the beauty it was, using as much of the original structure as possible.”
Slide across to see how the old and new layouts compare:
Mrs Hayat has already decided on the title of Sfhynx House for the new property.
When asked about the peculiar name, her representative said: “There won’t be any Egyptian feel to it, it’s a family acronym, but we understand it creates a bit of mystery.”
Lovie pleased at plans to preserve alma mater
Celebrated north-east entertainer and events host Robert Lovie attended the school as a youngster, and it holds a lot of sentimental value for him.
He said: “It’s really sad for little villages when their schools close, it was a special place and I have many happy memories there.
“It’s great that something is being done with the building, and someone wants to give it a new lease of life.
“New Aberdour will always have a special place in my heart and I support any plan to protect the old school.”
Councillors could rubber-stamp plans next week
The Banff and Buchan Area Committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss the plans.
Officers have recommended that councillors grant permission, saying that the proposed house “is acceptable in principle” and wouldn’t adversely impact neighbours.
The former school, which was built in 1960, had a guide price of £65,000 when it went up for auction in April 2020.
The building on Elphin Street closed after it was revealed the cost of providing an education to its small number of pupils was £23,254 a head.
It had been used as a base by a number of local groups, who were left disappointed after council chiefs sold it.
If Mrs Hayat gains planning permission, she says she would be keen to offer some space in the 1.4 acre site for community use.