Culter concerns over loss of local businesses

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Residents in a Lower Deeside community, which once had a thriving economy, are concerned at the number of businesses closed in recent years.

Peterculter, commonly referred to locally as ‘the village’ though it is now officially part of Aberdeen city, appears to be becoming more of a commuter belt suburb owing to the frequent decisions by planners to replace businesses with residential homes.

Currently, four sites lie empty on Culter’s main street: two cafes (Cocoa Ooze and Kelly’sbakery), and two shops (Highland Delicatessen and the former Co-operative store).

In addition, Culter has lost two of its three banks in recent years, one now a public bar and the other a funeral parlour; its police station, also now a block of flats;, and the former Gordon Arms Hotel is now flats, a fate which it’s believed will be shortly shared by the site once occupied by a car salesroom and garage.

The housing developments, while increasing Culter’s population, also mean that there are far fewer employment opportunities for residents in a village which was once a thriving mill town.

The one form of economy which does seem to do well though, perhaps because of the mainly commuter-based population, is the catering trade, with five take-aways and four restaurants apparently all doing good business.

Culter Community Council’s planning officer, Brian Yule, said: “We’ve been in discussions with local city councillors to try and think of ways to attract businesses back. Unfortunately the city council has difficulty finding financial resources, with maybe some areas of the city in more need of help than Culter.”

Mr Yule said that lack of parking facilities in Culter was possibly at the heart of the problem, a sentiment echoed by two residents who approached the Piper photographer on the village’s main street and said the problem was that “there’s nowhere at all to park.”

The community council has tried to find suitable sites for more car parks but everywhere meets the problem of having to buy land as very little is council-owned.

At the moment, rumours abound that some interested parties may re-open both Cocoa Ooze and Kelly’s former bakery as cafes, but it is unlikely anyone can be found to take on the former Co-op store. When it was closed two or three years ago, when the Scottish Co-op was upgrading its stores across Scotland, the Society said that because of the run-down state of the fabric of the Culter building it was “not financially viable” to do any work on it. The store has since remained closed.