Banff Vinery project is growing towards success

Aberdeenshire Council has received £663,768 in a second stage funding application to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for the continued development of the Vinery building in Banff.

This was a highly competitive process and is real recognition of the work which has been undertaken to progress the project to-date and the positive impact it will have on the local community.

The project was the result of a community consultation to identify the preferred usage of the Grade B listed Glass House in Airlie Gardens.

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

Following the receipt of funding through the Aberdeenshire Town Centre Fund, work was able to commence in December on an initial phase of emergency works to stabilise the walls and roof.

Cllr Andy Kille, chair of the council’s Banff and Buchan Area Committee, said: “We are delighted to have received this news and that we can continue work to convert this building, which is in such a prominent location in the town, into a centre for therapeutic gardening and growing for the local community. The focus here is on mental health, wellbeing and growing skills as well as plants.”

Scotland’s Association for Mental Health (SAMH) have been confirmed as the appointed operator.

The next step will see the work to complete this exciting heritage restoration get underway as soon as possible and in line with guidance around Covid-19. It is hoped the renovations will be completed by summer 2021, which will be a time to celebrate the impact a facility such as this will have on all our health and wellbeing.

Vice-chair Cllr Michael Roy added: “The community involvement in developing the future use of the Vinery has been important in raising capacity locally, whilst the potential of this project to nurture both stronger individuals and the wider community is very timely.

Fellow Banff Councillor, John Cox, commented “Improving opportunities for developing skills and employment and contributing to positive health and wellbeing are key parts of the regeneration action plans, and I welcome the input this building will make to that agenda.”

Chair of the Banff Development Partnership, Cllr Glen Reynolds, said: “This is an exciting new restorative project coming to such a prominent site in Banff and we look forward to sharing further news with you as the work continues to progress.”

As the property is a Common Good asset, it will also be necessary to seek approval for the building to be leased to an operator. SAMH will use this and the renovation time to develop a business plan for their activities as well as talking to local residents about their ideas and aspirations.

In a statement, Alex Cumming, assistant director of delivery and development at SAMH, commented: “SAMH is excited to explore the potential the Vinery has to offer and investment in this project will bring real community benefits. We’re looking forward to working closely with the local community, Aberdeenshire Council and other key partners.”