Community engagement begins with £20m Leveling Fund offer for Aberdeenshire

Community engagement began on Aberdeenshire Council’s £20million bid to the UK government’s leveling fund.

Aquarium Upgrade Plans

The ambitious proposal includes an extension to the Macduff Sea Aquarium, the creation of a Scottish Seafood Center of Excellence in Fraserburgh and the development of an innovative new cultural quarter in Peterhead.

Under the proposed plans, a significant upgrade and expansion of the existing Macduff Aquarium will be undertaken, enhancing the visitor experience with enhanced exhibits that capitalize on new technology and provide immersive experiences.

The council is also considering the possibility of integrating a lobster hatchery into the project, as well as a flexible learning space to establish partnerships with the higher and higher education sector.

A cafe, restaurant and retail space could also be created, with further improvements to outdoor areas including links to nearby coastal paths.

Further up the coast at Fraserburgh, a new Scottish Seafood Center of Excellence would be built on a prominent seaside site in the town.

Upgrade plans for Arbuthnott Museum
Upgrade plans for Arbuthnott Museum

Owned and operated by the Scottish Whitefish 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 by supporting excellence in all aspects of the fisheries, seafood and related value chain.

The planned facilities include classrooms and training facilities, a test kitchen and demonstration space, a cooking school and offices.

In Peterhead, the creation of a ‘Cultural Quarter’ in Peterhead will help revitalize the heart of the city by transforming the disused Arbuthnot House into a new destination museum and cultural centre.

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

Additionally, multipurpose spaces and workshops would be provided to support participation and learning.

The facility would include a harbor view cafe or restaurant, overlooking a new public plaza created in Broad Street with significant green space.

Upgrade for Seafood Center
Upgrade for Seafood Center

The project also aims to renovate the existing Arbuthnot Museum and Library building on Rue Saint-Pierre in the city with potential options for use, including spaces for commercial and/or community use.

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

After receiving the green light from the full council in April, the teams behind Aberdeenshire’s bid now have until July to submit their bids and are progressing economic and financial assessments and committing to projects with local communities.

Paul Macari, Head of Planning and Economics at Aberdeenshire Council, said: ‘There is no doubt that this is one of the biggest funding requests this authority has ever made and , if successful, it will be transformative for the cities and areas concerned.

“We remain committed to developing Aberdeenshire’s economic and social prosperity and are confident that our submission will be a real driver of economic growth in the region.

“The two projects in Macduff and Peterhead, in particular, will provide new cultural, educational and social opportunities and increase the towns and region’s attractiveness as a tourist destination for many years to come.”

For more information and to access the online pledge through June 17, visit:

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James C. Tibbs