Aden upgrade gets underway

Work has today started (19 Dec 2018) at Aden Country Park, following the announcement of a grant of over one million pounds by The National Lottery.

The funding was announced in June and will support the major restoration and redevelopment of both Aden’s historic buildings and landscape, along with the creation of a brand-new play area, improvements to park accessibility and signage, as well as supporting a programme to enhance biodiversity.

The total grant is for £1.25 million. It is expected that the total project cost will be £2.13 million, with the rest of the funds coming from grants from Historic Environment Scotland, Viridor Credits, EB Scotland, and Wren. Additional contributions include non-cash, volunteer time, developer obligations and investment from Aberdeenshire Council itself.

The ambition of the project is to enhance, promote, and conserve Aden’s rich cultural, architectural, archaeological and natural heritage, creating a sustainable, high-quality visitor destination in rural Aberdeenshire for present and future generations to enjoy.

In addition, it is hoped this investment will encourage as many people as possible get involved with the heritage of Aden Country Park through opportunities for volunteering, community participation, audience development, interpretation, training and learning.

Today, those involved with the park and the application itself met in the park to cut the first turf, signaling the start of the significant programme which is estimated will take around five years in total. In attendance were the Project Team, Friends of Aden, representatives from the Buchan Development Partnership and Aberdeenshire Councillors and officers.

Cllr Norman Smith is the chair of the Buchan Area Committee. He said: “Aden is a great asset for the whole of Aberdeenshire. I know that people from Buchan and beyond will welcome this significant investment in an important setting, and I am hopeful that this project can achieve the aim of improving visitor facilities, increasing biodiversity and supporting education in the area. A number of partners have been fundamental in securing this funding and I was pleased to have them join us today to get the work underway”

Cllr Peter Argyle is chair of the Infrastructure Services Committee, with responsibility for parks within its remit. He said: “We are lucky to have a number of fantastic parks and open spaces in Aberdeenshire. It is the variety of these spaces which make Aberdeenshire memorable. To be involved with a project on this scale at Aden is exciting and I am confident that this will attract both visitors and locals to see the park in a new light. I look forward to watching this progress over the coming years.”

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “Aden Country Park is enjoyed by all ages as a place to relax and reconnect with nature away from the pressures of daily life. We’re delighted that, thanks to players of the National Lottery, work has started which will protect and improve this precious green space so that visitors can make the most of all it has to offer.”

The main strands of the proposed project delivery phase include:
• A range of improvements to visitor facilities, including improved access, upgraded courtyard, path works, the opening up of the ground floor of the Coach House to develop an interactive interpretation, education and activity area, along with the creation of wildlife and farming heritage trails.
• Improvements to the biodiversity of habitats for plants and wildlife including works to the Mill Pond, new planting, the control of invasive species and woodland management.
• The development of environmental, archaeological and heritage-related volunteer and learning opportunities.
• A new adventure play area aimed at children of all ages and abilities.
• The creation of outdoor learning classrooms with a new pond dipping platform, wildlife shelter, and nature trails.
• The uncovering, recording, and interpretation of a series of significant archaeological sites including a Bronze Age settlement, lost Keith Tower, Mansion House, Stone Circle and WW1 trenches. 
• Formal learning programmes and resources developed for schools to complement the curriculum for excellence.
• The stabilisation of the Gardener’s Cottage and the repurposing of the Grieve’s House to create new enterprises and new income sources in the future. 
• The conservation of Aden’s designed landscape including the restoration of structures such as the three historic lodges, features and planting along with the stabilisation of at-risk buildings.
• The development of a wide range of interpretation e.g. interpretation centre, smartphone app, films, website, leaflets and panels, to encourage visitors to engage with Aden’s natural, built, cultural and archaeological heritage.
• The delivery of a wide range of heritage related events and activities aimed at a wide range of audiences.