17 June 2021

Councillors approve 25-year Vinery lease with Aberdeen Foyer

Councillors have approved a 25-year lease agreement with Aberdeen Foyer for the Vinery in Banff.

The decision by Aberdeenshire Council’s Banff and Buchan Area Committee on Tuesday (June 15) follows a public consultation which was largely supportive of the plans.

A formal application will now be made to the Sheriff to grant a Common Good Order for disposal of the land.

Community involvement has been a key element of the project to bring the derelict Vinery buildings back into viable use and has informed the decision- making process from the outset.

As the property is a Common Good asset, it was necessary to seek approval for the building to be leased to an operator, although full public access will be retained to the garden grounds.

The area committee heard that the commitment from Aberdeen Foyer to a gardening and growing project will have a positive impact on the biodiversity of the Airlie Gardens site and will provide opportunities for community learning in this area.

In addition, through the peppercorn nature of the lease, Aberdeen Foyer will have time to build a successful project which can be financially sustainable in the long-term.

The organisation has a vision of “a place where all young people and adults can be who they want to be regardless of the challenges they face today and where everyone has the right to work, learn and have a safe place to live as a valued member of their local community”.

The project, which is a key part of the Banff Vision and Action Plan, will therefore have a positive impact on children and young people’s rights and wellbeing by creating a new community facility which increases opportunities for children, young people and families to take part in mental and physical health and wellbeing activities.

Through the future use of the Vinery as a space for horticulture, it is intended that volunteers and local groups will be able to work in the gardens and make them once again an inviting place for people to visit.

Welcoming this week’s endorsement, Banff and Buchan Area Committee chair Cllr Doreen Mair said: “I am delighted that we have taken another major step towards the regeneration of the Vinery into a wonderful community asset fit for the 21st century. The consultation feedback clearly demonstrated that there is a strong desire to see retention of the building’s traditional character and full public accessibility which, of course, is our intention.”

Vice-chair Cllr Michael Roy said: “We have every confidence that Aberdeen Foyer will be an outstanding operator of the Vinery in the years ahead and will work alongside residents to develop innovative new ideas to help nurture both stronger individuals and the wider community.”

Following a highly competitive process, Aberdeenshire Council received £663,768 in a second stage funding application to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for the continued development of the GrowBanff@TheVinery project.

Originally constructed in the Duff House estate to grow grapes, the Vinery building was a gift to the town along with the gardens it sits in by the Duff family.

The Vinery project was also awarded £200,131 through Aberdeenshire Council’s allocation of the Scottish Government Town Centre Fund to undertake Stage 1 of the refurbishment of the site which has included repairs to part of the Bothy structure.

That work is currently being carried out by local contractor Ken Barbour Ltd and is expected to last 48 weeks, with an estimated completion date of March 2022.