More than 250 people turned out to view plans for a proposed multi-million pound retail development and tourist hub by Brodie Countryfare, outside Drumoak.
The investment would see the area known as Upper Park, located around 1km west of Drumoak, being developed into a tourist visitor destination with restaurant, gift department, food hall, landscaped gardens, picnic area and wildlife pond.
Exhibitions giving the public the opportunity to view the proposals, ask questions directly to the project team and feed back their views through public opinion surveys, were held at Banchory Town Hall and Drumoak Church Hall, as well as in Stonehaven and Milltimber, on Friday and Saturday.
A spokesman for Brodie Countryfare said: “We were overwhelmed with the number of people who turned out over the two days. At Drumoak alone, we had over 120 people, so it was fairly busy to say the least! It certainly shows the interest in the development, which can only be a positive thing.
“Over the two days, we had over 250 people and a very encouraging response in terms of feedback through the public opinion questionnaires.
“We are still waiting on a number of questionnaires being returned via post, as many people chose to take them away with them. Of the ones that were returned (147), approximately 75% of people are in favour of the Brodie brand coming to Royal Deeside and 8% of people indicated they ‘don’t know’ at this stage if they support the brand coming to Royal Deeside. We are extremely encouraged by the support that Brodie has received.”
Drumoak resident, Lena Sim, 62, came to Banchory to view the proposals and said: “I think it’s a super idea. I’ve been to Brodie at Forres and this is good for the area. I’d go along to have a look and as we stay in Drumoak, we’d walk along to have our coffee and a bowl of soup.”
However, not everyone felt the plans were a good idea. Jane Diack, 48, a clinical scientist from Banchory, said: “Much as I think it’s a good-looking project, I don’t think it’s desired in Deeside.
“We’ve got Mains of Drum, Raemoir Garden Centre, Millers and Finzean Farm Shop - local folk who’ve built up a business over a number of years. I am really worried this would take business away without offering a huge amount.
“They are going on about increasing tourism, but Deeside is already a tourist hub.”
A full planning application for Brodie at Park have yet to be lodged with Aberdeenshire Council, but the company said if it gets the green light, it would seek to work with local suppliers, such as Duncan’s of Deeside, who already supply their Forres base with goods.
Speaking to the Piper earlier this month, managing director of Brodie Countryfare, Anna Taylor, said: “In order for the concept of Brodie to prosper at Drumoak, it is essential that as a business, we support, not compete with, the wider businesses and tourist attractions in the area, and importantly integrate ourselves into the existing offerings that Deeside provides.”
It is understood that the proposal would bring as many as 150 jobs in the area as well as many more during the construction stage.