Dracula Castle Closed Down For 'Safety Reasons'?

Cruden Bay Travel Blog

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Oct 13 2007 By Pamela Owen

Safety Fear Over Tourist Spot

THE castle said to have inspired the legend of Dracula has been closed to the public.

Slains Castle, near Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, has become a safety risk to the hundreds of tourists who visit it each year.

Irish author Bram Stoker is said to have written part of his horror tale in 1895 while staying nearby.

The cliff-top fortress, which is believed to have been the inspiration for the vampire's Transylvanian lair, is being fenced off ahead of plans to convert it into holiday homes.

Cruden Community Council chairwoman Kathleen Morrison said: "This really is a sad day. Slains Castle is one of the best attractions the northeast of Scotland has to offer.

"It's a real shame we've lost it so suddenly. Having said that, I understand why they've had to do this.

"I've always been amazed there haven't been more accidents but I suppose that's because local people know the risks."

The 16th-century castle has lain derelict since being sold by the Earl of Errol to pay death duties.

It became a suicide spot in 1999 when three people leapt to their deaths.

Edinburgh firm Slains Partnership have taken over the site and have been advised by insurers that the castle is a serious safety hazard.

Architect Douglas Forest said: "It's always been a dangerous place, on the top of a very steep cliff and if its owner didn't take steps to improve safety, they would be liable for any accidents."

Controversial plans to turn the castle into 35 luxury holiday homes were approved last year.

 

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Slains Castle holiday homes approved

From The Buchan Observer - DATE: 10/12/2007

BUCHAN councillors have backed controversial plans to transform Slains Castle into holiday apartments despite opposition from local residents.

Inverurie-based the Slains Partnership has been granted planning permission to restore and redevelop the magnificent building near Cruden Bay into 35 holiday apartments.

The decision was taken last week by members of the Buchan area committee.

Letters of objections from locals flooded into Aberdeenshire Council following the advertisement of the application and a public meeting was held earlier this month to give both locals and the developers an opportunity to have their say on the project.

Around 100 people voiced their concerns mainly regarding the loss of the castle to holiday homes which could ultimately lead to a downturn in tourism to the area.

They also said that the loss of the ruinous Slains Castle to the development would have an adverse impact upon the local landscape and environment.

The application did receive one letter of support for the development providing the building is restored exactly as per the original and that access for the public along existing rights of way and behind the castle are maintained.

Historic Scotland was consulted on the £6 million business venture and confirmed that although Slains Castle is not listed it is considered to be of listable quality.

It welcomed the opportunity to restore the castle and considered the indicative plans to be sympathetic.
But Boddam councillor Sam Coull said if the area committee backed the proposal it would spoil a historic site, claiming: "We would be mad to let a scheme like this go ahead when we don't know what's going to happen. It will be the spoilation of a historical site and we also don't have any clear idea how many people visit this site at the moment."

The viability of the project was also questioned by Cllr Coull and fellow councillor George Barnes who both called on the partnership to produce a business plan.

Central Buchan councillor Stan Tennant called for the plans to be approved, telling members: "At the end of the day, regardless of viability, we cannot afford to do nothing.

"If nothing is done it will crumble into the sea or certainly become a danger to the public.

"We should be welcoming and encouraging developers to invest in the Buchan area. "
Cllr Jim Davidson added: "If we do nothing about Slains Castle now, in 20 years time, or perhaps less, it will start to crumble away and people will not be able to visit Slains Castle. I think we should restore it now."

The committee voted 8-2 in favour of the partnership's plans.

The plans will include a public room dedicated to the history of the castle, including artifacts and memorabilia.

Slains Partnership say around 16 full-time jobs are likely to be created, as well as part time posts.
by Leona Findlay
leona.findlay@buchanobserver.co.uk

Cruden Bay
photo by: highlandmist