27 May 2022

Community engagement begins on £20 million Levelling Up Fund bid for Aberdeenshire

Community engagement has begun on Aberdeenshire Council’s £20 million bid to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

The ambitious submission includes an extension to Macduff Marine Aquarium, creation of a Scottish Seafood Centre of Excellence in Fraserburgh and a development of an innovative new Peterhead cultural quarter.

Under the proposed plans, a significant modernisation and extension to the existing aquarium at Macduff will be undertaken, enhancing the visitor experience with improved exhibits which capitalise on new technologies and provide immersive experiences.

The council is also considering the potential to incorporate a lobster hatchery in the project, together with a flexible learning space to build partnerships with the further and higher education sector.

A café, restaurant and retail space could also potentially be created, with additional improvements to outdoor spaces including links to nearby coastal paths.

Further round the coast at Fraserburgh, a new multi-purpose Scottish Seafood Centre of Excellence would be constructed on a prominent seaward site in the town.

To be owned and operated by the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA), the aim is to support a vision for the north-east of Scotland to become the destination of choice for investment in skills, youth employment, workforce development, technology and operating standards with supporting excellence in all aspects of the fishing, seafood and related value chain.

Facilities under consideration include classrooms and training facilities, a test kitchen and demonstration space, a cookery school and office accommodation.
In Peterhead, the creation of a ‘cultural quarter’ in Peterhead will help revitalise the heart of the town by transforming the disused Arbuthnot House into a new destination museum and cultural hub.

The desire is to provide a modern facility in a sensitively-restored historic building to showcase Aberdeenshire’s extensive historic collections and attract temporary national exhibitions.

In addition, multi-purpose and workshop spaces would be provided to support participation and learning. The facility would include a café or restaurant with views of the harbour, overlooking a new public plaza created in Broad Street featuring significant green space.

The project is also aiming to refurbish the existing Arbuthnot Museum and Library building on the town’s St Peter Street with potential options for use including space for business and/or community use.

The Levelling Up Fund operates on a competitive basis, with a maximum of one project being funded per Westminster constituency and one strategic transport project per local authority.

Having been shown the green light by full council in April, the teams behind the Aberdeenshire bid now have until July to submit its submission and are progressing economic and financial appraisals and carrying out engagement on the projects with local communities.
Paul Macari, Head of Planning and Economy at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “There can be no doubt that this is one of the biggest funding submissions this authority has ever made and, if successful, will be transformative for the towns and areas involved.

“We remain committed to developing the economic and social prosperity of Aberdeenshire and we are confident our submission will be a real driver for economic growth in the region. The two projects at Macduff and Peterhead, in particular, will provide new cultural, educational and social opportunities and will increase the towns’ and the region’s attraction as a tourism destination for many years to come.”

For more information and access to the online engagement running until June 17, visit: