And finally… Grave objections

Plans for a new restaurant and whisky bar overlooking Dundee’s famous and historic Howff cemetery have been branded “distasteful and, beyond doubt, disrespectful” by a conservation group.

Carnoustie-based Brunton Design submitted plans earlier this month to Dundee City Council on behalf of West One Residential Ltd.

The project includes a glass box seating area attached to the side of a listed building looking directly into the graveyard from the south side of the city centre location.

The Bank Street restaurant would have a facility for around 70 people, private dining and a whisky bar.

An upper seating area will be created on the north side of the building facing out and in towards the Howff.

However, the Dundee Howff Conservation Group, which is currently transcribing burial records in the graveyard, has voiced its opposition to the plans.

A spokesperson for the group issued a statement which said: “This box will extend out of the rear of the building by approximately 3-4m and will encroach into the land/air space of the area designated as a burial ground by Mary, Queen of Scots in 1564.

“The box itself will not touch the land of the Howff but will hover above it by approximately 45cm (1.5 feet).”

They added the application “seeks to change the history of the Howff for the benefit of businessmen making a fast buck at the detriment of this city’s proud and important history”.

The group is currently working to determine whether there are bodies in the area of the graveyard nearest the glass box.

The spokesperson added: “If this planning application is passed it will stop the group from completing a full below surface survey of the site; it will also change the long and important history of the site.

“This group’s primary aim is to ‘preserve the Howff for future generations’ and this proposal is deemed by many as distasteful and, beyond doubt, disrespectful to the dead.

“If granted, it will see people being entertained by way of a restaurant/bar, and no doubt with music, above what could be burial lairs of babies, the poor and cholera victims. We ask that all members of the community object to this atrocious application.”

Brunton Design architect Rodger Brunton has said the design would be “respectful”.

He said: “People have predictably and understandably said they want the Howff respected and I can assure you our intention is to maintain that.

“We know the historical significance. We feel we have created a respectful design that would only be a positive addition to the area. It is important to stress no gravestones, trees or paths will be disturbed in any way.

“We feel through this design the dining experience would only enhance the Howff. This would be an opportunity to combine the historical and the contemporary in an exciting project in the city centre.

The Howff, which first opened in 1564, is classed as an A listed building by Historic Environment Scotland.

It consists of 1,750 stones, and is generally considered to be one of the most important collections of tombstones in Scotland.

The last burial took place in 1857.

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