As Westhill and Elrick entered the new millennium it was about to undergo dramatic industrial expansion.
Land between to the south became home to oil service companies — in particular those specialising in subsea work. Arnhall Business Park was occupied by the likes of Bibby Offshore, Subsea 7, Technip UK and Schlumberger. Street names such as Discovery Drive and Prospect Road reflected the pioneering spirit.
Central Insurance Services opened too, and Stewart Milne Homes — one of the country’s biggest house builders — retained its base here.
New housing continued to appear. Elrick extended westwards as sites next to Carnie Woods and north of Broadstraik Road were developed.
With the growth of the town and its business parks came new shops and restaurants. Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Aldi arrived within a few years of each other, combining with Costco to make Westhill a regional shopping destination. Restaurants appeared to the west side of the shopping centre, a Holiday Inn to the east.
Denman Park was given a makeover, with the addition of new paths, a section of wild meadow, public artwork, and even outdoor gym equipment. And pedestrian crossings were installed on Westhill Drive and Old Skene Road.
A rise in traffic saw the A944 dualled on its approach to the Westhill Drive roundabout from the east, partly to accommodate extra traffic from new commercial developments.
In 2015 the Westhill Shopping Centre (below) was revamped with extra parking and units, which drew tenants like Home Bargains and Costa.
At the time of writing [February 2016], the oil industry is experiencing a major downturn. The price of crude has fallen to $30 a barrel -– a third of its price a few years ago –- while operating costs in the North Sea have risen as reserves become harder to get at. An estimated 6,000 jobs have been lost in the offshore sector in the last two years, and that has impacted on local businesses.
Community enterprise is, however, undaunted. Plans for 2016 include the town’s first 10-kilometre run, organised by the Westhill and District Community Sport and Leisure Hub. And WECC is looking at what might be done to secure a major artwork to mark the town’s 50th birthday in 2018.