Aden Consultation Points Way Forward
Following the community consultation carried out in 2010/2011 where the “Making the Most of Aden Country Park” paper based and online questionnaire was made available throughout Aden Country Park and at several local events and forums, we felt it was important to provide feedback on what you said, and what we did.
The main aim of the consultation process was to encourage the local community, visitors, non-visitors, and users to: become partners in the decision making process; help identify what areas of Aden Country Park are both successful and in need of improvement; ascertain what the needs and gaps are; gather opinions as to how Aden Country Park can be regenerated; and to demonstrate that there is a need for Aden to be improved.
In total 466 people, predominantly from the Buchan area completed the “Making the Most of Aden Country Park” questionnaire. Using these results as a basis we have both developed the Aden Country Park Development Plan, the Community Action Plan, as well as using the feedback provided as a guide to making various improvements in the park.
Overall there are four main themes to improving Aden Country Park and these include: improvements to current facilities, introduction of new facilities, activities and events, and marketing and promotion. Using the community feedback as the basis the improvements to current facilities included: upgrading paths; signage; building maintenance; toilets (car parks); dredging the lake; and improvements to the Aden theatre. In addition money has also been set aside to upgrade toilets (Coach House, Café & Museum); replace the dark courtyard windows and doors; as well as a refurbishment of the Aden Café.
New facilities introduced include: children activity karts; Bessie the milking cow; the development of the SANDS garden; a new 21st Century arboretum; introducing farm animals at events (Wild About Aden); developing a new gift shop; along with the formation of the Aden Community Allotments Association working to develop allotments and community gardens within the park.
Other developments include the formation of the Friends of Aden Country Park (running the Aden Shop in partnership with Willowbank Day Services), winning the prestigious Green Flag Award; and the Aden café winning the Healthy Living Award.
The vast majority of respondents (338) also stated that if there was more activities or events in Aden Country Park then they would attend. Over the last two years we have worked in partnership with various groups, individuals and organisations to develop and support a range of successful, well attended events including: Wild About Aden, Halloween Events, Aden Bike Challenge, Country Fair, Vintage Tractor Day, as well as arts, music, performing arts, heritage, and children’s events.
Marketing and promotion of events, facilities and activities was also seen as one of the key aspects respondents felt should be improved. In response we have developed a new Aden Country Park identity, logo and website, along with a range of associated social media profiles including Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. In addition we have promoted the Park on many external websites (STV Peterhead, The List, Aberdeenshire Council, BBC, Visit Scotland etc); in the local press (Press & Journal, Buchan Observer, Advertiser Series etc); and on the radio (Waves, Northshound, Original 106, and Radio Scotland). As a result this increase in marketing and promotion has helped to increase visitor numbers to Aden by 41,940 visitors, between 2010 and 2011.
In conclusion the feedback gathered through the community consultation has helped us to focus on what the community thinks about Aden Country Park, helping to establish what they think is working, and what they think needs improvement. Although we feel we have started to address some of the issues raised, it is still clear that we have a lot more to do to keep Aden’s reputation of being “the jewel in the Buchan Crown”.