10 March 2021

Work set to start on transforming Banff Vinery into inspiring community facility

Work to bring the Vinery in Banff back into community use are about to start after Aberdeenshire Council appointed Ken Barbour Ltd as contractor for the build.

The project is being made possible thanks to funding from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF), the Town Centre Fund and Aberdeenshire Council.

A community consultation identified the preferred usage of the Grade B listed building in Airlie Gardens and, while the project was Initially delayed as a result of the Covid pandemic, a full restoration and refurbishment of the bothy and glasshouse – known locally as the Orangery - into a community facility will soon be underway.

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.

Despite the withdrawal of Scotland’s Association for Mental Health from the project due to the uncertainty around Covid, a new operator has been confirmed, with Aberdeen Foyer now in place to work in partnership with other local community groups. 

Aberdeen Foyer are excited at the prospect of working closely with NESCOL and community partners to provide opportunities to access wellbeing support, qualifications and training for all ages, while also providing a safe, shared space for other community and third sector groups to enjoy, including opportunities for gardening.

As the property is a Common Good asset, it will again be necessary to seek approval for the building to be leased to an operator. Aberdeen Foyer will use this consultation and the construction period to develop a business plan for their activities as well as talking to local residents about their ideas and aspirations. 

Cllr Doreen Mair, chair of the council’s Banff and Buchan Area Committee, said: “Despite this exciting project having had some setbacks due to Covid, it will be a very welcome boost to the local area and provides an exciting opportunity to bring such an iconic building back into use once again.”

Vice-chair and local elected member Cllr Michael Roy added: “The community showed tremendous interest in this project during the engagement process and the development of their ideas at the Vinery will help nurture both stronger individuals and the wider community.”

Anne Kain, head of Service, Employability and Learning at Aberdeen Foyer, commented: “Our proposal for the use of The Vinery is based around using our extensive experience in developing and delivering services to create a wide range of opportunities for community members, such as accredited and vocational learning as well as therapeutic services and support. The aim is to create a positive space that will showcase local talent and generate a sense of hope and pride in the local community.”

On-site works are anticipated to last 48 weeks, with an estimated completion date of March 2022. There will be temporary changes to the public use of the garden to ensure public safety.

The entrance from Low Street will remain open, however there will be no access to the gardens from the Princess Royal football ground end.

The east section of the garden, which will be used as a site compound and site storage area, will be fenced off, as will the path which runs along the northern section of the wall towards the Vinery buildings and the area surrounding the buildings. Other areas of the garden will remain open to the public.