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Aden Country Park is always developing, trying to meet the needs of the local community and visitors which it serves. Attached below is a summary of some of the work undertaken over the past twelve years.

Making the most of Aden Country Park Project

Back in 2010, a “Making the Most of Aden Country Park” project was initiated which focused on developing the asset of Aden Country Park, in Mintlaw, to make full use of the parks rich cultural and environmental resources to improve and sustain the park for future generations.

Funding was successfully secured from LEADER (the Scottish Government and the European Commission programme to support rural Scotland) and the Buchan Community Planning Partnership from which a Development Worker, was appointed to create an Aden Country Park Development Plan. The plan looked at how best to promote, regenerate, and increase participation and public access to Aden Country Park and all its amenities.

The Development Worker was employed by Buchan Development Partnership (BDP) and worked in partnership with the various services of Aberdeenshire Council working in Aden Country Park to deliver the project. These include: the Aberdeenshire Museum Service, Landscape Services, The Ranger Service, Property Service, and Aberdeenshire Cultural Services.

The remit/ethos of the “Making the most of Aden Country Park” project lives on today, with the Aden Development Group driving forward park developments. For further information please visit The Team page.


Initial Community Consultation

The starting point for the appointed Development Worker was to carry out research, a needs/gap analysis, and community consultation. As well as attending local events such as the Mintlaw Gala, Pipe Band Competition, and Vintage Tractor Day, a paper based, and online questionnaire was circulated to gather the thoughts of the local community, visitors, users, volunteers and employees of Aden, focusing on how they would like to see Aden Country Park regenerated.

Key themes and future ideas identified through the questionnaire include: the marketing and promotion of Aden; the renovation and development of the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum, café/restaurant and estate cottages; creation of a gift/farm shop, indoor children’s play area, a multifunctional indoor space, Community gardens/allotments, a sculpture trail; along with improvements to all paths around the park.

A range of new events ideas was also identified through the community consultation, these included: craft & food fairs, music events, farmers market, sheepdog trials, cinema, nature events, open air theatre, heritage events, children’s events, and other farming related events.

Feedback to all proposed ideas was gathered at a Buchan Development Partnership (BDP) AGM and Autumn Forum. Responses were very positive, and it was agreed that improving current facilities, introducing new facilities and events, as well as improving marketing and promotion of all facilities, activities and events was vitally important.

In addition, it was also felt that developing a ‘Friends of Aden Country Park’ group would provide the local community with the opportunity to have a greater say on what developments there might be in Aden Country Park.

A Friends of Aden group was developed shortly after. For further information or if you are interested in joining the Friends of Aden please follow the link.

Aden Country Park Community Action Plan

Following community consultation an Aden Country Park Community Action Plan was developed. This booklet is one of a series produced by Local Rural Partnerships together with the community under the banner “Making It Real”. The aim of this booklet was to provide community action plans in an attractive, easy to read, professional printed format.

For Aden Country Park, the consultation exercise was led by the Aden Development and Aden Working Group. This information helped to guide the community and Community Planning Partners to draw up detailed action plans to implement the top priorities, as well as addressing the other issues which had been identified. For each priority or issue this involved agreeing who should be involved, what resources were needed, along with target dates for completion. For further information please download the Aden Country Park Community Action Plan below.

You Said, We Did – Community Consultation Feedback

Following the community consultation carried out in 2010 it was important to provide feedback on what the community and visitors to Aden said, and what we, the Aberdeenshire Council staff and community partners, did. The main aim of the consultation process was to encourage the local community, visitors, users, and volunteers 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
  • 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, an Aden Country Park Development Plan and a Community Action Plan were developed, helping to guide various improvements in the park.

Aden Country Park Development Plan

The Aden Country Park Development Plan set out a vision to shape Aden Country Park over the next five to ten years. The vision aims “to develop the asset of Aden Country Park, making full use of its rich cultural and environmental resources to improve and sustain the Park financially for future generations”

To achieve this vision, recommendations were identified from the findings of the public consultation, and work carried out by the Aden Working and Development groups. These recommendations are grouped under three specific objectives:


  • Identify the best model to improve governance and management
  • Identify development opportunities, revenue generation streams and potential funding sources
  • Identify ways in which to promote Aden Country Park most effectively


Within each objective a series of actions were highlighted. Each action was marked as either Very High, High, Medium, or Low priority. Actions marked as a ‘Very High’ providing the initial focus in terms of delivering the plan over its first year, whilst actions marked as ‘High’ priority becoming the focus in years two and three. Those marked as ‘Medium’ would become a focus over the three or four years, and actions marked as ‘Low’ priority becoming a focus in year five, and are more likely to continue beyond the lifespan of the development plan.

It was important to note that all actions in the Aden Country Park Development Plan are suggested actions that will each require further research and development work to determine their feasibility and suitability for Aden Country Park.

In conclusion, the Aden Country Park Development Plan aims to guide and provide suggestions for the development and sustainability of Aden Country Park, providing proposals to aid effective and efficient management. Specifically, the plan aims to:

  • Raise Awareness, Involvement and Build Consensus
  • Plug Knowledge Gaps
  • Identify Revenue Generating Opportunities
  • Establish a Framework for Decisions
  • Promote Strategic Planning
  • Agree an Action Plan
  • Plan for Change
  • Monitor and Review

The development plan was also intended to be a working document which was sufficiently flexible and realistic, to react to change and opportunities, while seeking to improve the quality of Aden Country Park in the short, medium, and long term. For more information, please download the Aden Country Park Development Plan below.

Aden Country Park Allotment and Community Garden Project

Using the results of the Aden Development Plan, in 2012 funding was successfully secured through the “Investing in Ideas” Big Lottery Fund for the Aden Country Park Allotment & Community Garden project. This project enabled the Aden Development Worker to work in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council to establish whether the local Buchan community would like to see the development of allotments and community gardens in the grounds of Aden Country Park.

The report attached below illustrates the results of the comprehensive community consultation, questionnaire analysis, information, and mapping process, along with potential governance and management options, soil testing results, identified planning considerations, along with an action plan, development costs, and potential funding opportunities and income streams.

Following the Aden Country Park Allotment & Community Garden project the Aden Development Worker went on to help form the Aden Community Allotments Association (ACAA) which with support from the Development Worker went on to successfully apply for £77,000 of funding from Keep Scotland Beautiful – Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) to develop allotments and a community garden within the grounds of Aden Country Park.

Now the ACAA group are now able to offer over 55 plots for individuals, schools or community groups to use. For further information about the Aden Country Park Allotment & Community Garden project please download the attachment below. For further information about the Aden Community Allotments Association (ACAA) (link to the Aden Allotments page) please click on the link.

Aden Country Park Playground Project

In 2014, the Aden Development Worker successfully applied for “Investing in Ideas” Big Lottery Funding to work in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council to establish the needs and aspirations of the local Buchan community, as well as identifying ways to fund, develop, improve, and make better use of the children’s play provision offered in Aden Country Park.

During the project, the Aden Development Worker carried out the six key aims outlined in the grant application, these were to:

  1. Carry out detailed research into play equipment providers, the various costs, types, and options available to help improve the existing play provision in Aden Country Park.
  2. Consult with the local community via questionnaires, options appraisal, focus groups, interviews, events & meetings, with regards to the existing playground provision, clearly identifying what the needs, gaps and aspiration of the community are.
  3. Collate and analyse the results of the community consultation, options appraisal, and general feedback from the community.
  4. Use the results of community consultation and options appraisal to liaise with playground suppliers and their design services to achieve a fully costed budget plan and visual representation of proposed improvements.
  5. Develop a playground improvements feasibility study/project plan which includes possible income streams and future funding opportunities for the development of the playground provision in Aden Country Park.
  6. Feedback the results of the community consultation, feasibility study/project plan, options appraisal, and proposed improvements to the local community.

As a result of the Aden Playground Project, we ultimately hope to use the findings illustrated in the report attached below to help strengthen our ability to attract funding to deliver the improvements identified by the local community and visitors to Aden Country Park.

Aden Restoration & Redevelopment NLHF Project

Following the wide range of development work outlined above, in February 2016 Aberdeenshire Council, in partnership with our community partners, applied to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Parks for People programme for an ambitious £1.8 million restoration and redevelopment project for Aden Country Park.

The Aden Restoration & Redevelopment Project was assessed and approved by the NLHF and in June 2016 Aberdeenshire Council were awarded a grant of £149,500 towards the stage one 18-month project development phase. With funding support from Landscape, Cultural and Archaeology Services of Aberdeenshire Council, as well as non-cash contributions and voluntary commitment of the Friends of Aden and other voluntary groups, the development phase project totalled £212,500.


Aden NLHF Project Development Phase

During the Aden NLHF project development phase, the project board appointed Ironside Farrar Ltd and Jura Consultants to focus on the capital and activity work. The board also commissioned Buchan Development Partnership to deliver a series of community consultation and engagement work and appointed a Project and Funding Officer to be responsible for the overall project co-ordination and securing of match funding.

Throughout the project development phase, it was crucial that everyone was provided with an opportunity to have their say. A series of online and offline consultation opportunities were devised to ensure that our project proposals matched the needs and views of the local community and visitors to Aden.

Using the results of the consultation, project proposals were drawn up through a series of key supporting documents devised during the development phase, these included amongst others:

  • Access Plan
  • Activity Plan
  • Archaeological Investigations and Summary Reports
  • Biodiversity Management Plan
  • Business Plan
  • Community Consultation Reports
  • Conservation Management Plan
  • Evidence of Match Funding
  • Hydrology and Water Quality Report
  • Management and Maintenance Plan
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Plan
  • Project Timetable
  • Project Management Structure
  • Project Risks
  • Project Costs, Cash Flow and Income and Spending Forecasts
  • Project Funding Summary Report
  • Procurement Plan
  • Structural Condition Report
  • Stage 3 Design Report
  • Stage 3 Design Drawings
  • Tree Survey Report

Along with these supporting documents, a detailed second-round funding application was submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Parks for People programme in February 2018.


Aden NLHF Project Vision

As part of the application for funding support from the NLHF Parks for People programme, a vision for Aden Country Park was developed. This vision encapsulated all the previous development work, outlining that our vision for Aden was and still 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.

Our project will tell the story of farming from the North East of Scotland within the Aden landscape and the relationship between communities and the landscape over thousands of years. In addition, we aim to help as many people as possible to actively engage with the heritage of Aden Country Park through opportunities for volunteering, community participation, audience development, interpretation, training, and learning.


Aden NLHF Project Delivery Phase

Following the submission and assessment of the second-round, delivery phase Aden Country Park funding application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Parks for People programme, in July 2018, Aberdeenshire Council were granted £1,250,000 towards the £2,130,192 five-year Aden Country Park Restoration & Redevelopment Project.

A summary of the main strands of the project delivery phase include:

  • The conservation of Aden’s designed landscape including the restoration and reinstatement of structures, features and planting along with the re-emphasis of the Historic Main Drive and the removal of trees to enable key views to be re-established
  • The development of a wide range of interpretation methods to enable visitors to engage with Aden’s natural, built, cultural and archaeological heritage (including the development of a new interpretation centre, films, website, leaflets and interpretation panels)
  • The development of a new multi-generational and accessible play park which acts as both a ‘destination’ and as a space for mixed formal and informal play facilities, combining with art, sensory elements, and seating
  • Upgrading of the Arrival Courtyard through improved surfacing, which will enhance the space for visitors, events along with improving accessibility and signage
  • Enhancing and actively promoting access for disabled users to a wider area of the park, along with promoting walking and cycle routes which are connected to local and strategic path networks
  • Establishing an overarching Estate Trail, Agricultural Heritage and Wildlife Heritage Trails and interpretation through signage, art, and artefacts
  • Restoration of the mill pond and lake through the removal of trees to open up views, allow light into the water, along with improved diversity of planting to enhance habitat, biodiversity value and interest
  • The uncovering, recording, and interpretation of a series of significant archaeological sites including a Bronze Age structure, lost Keith Tower, stone circle, and WW1 practise trenches
  • New viewing platforms, outdoor learning classrooms and pond dipping area
  • The development of formal learning programmes and educational pack resources to complement the curriculum for excellence
  • Conservation and stabilisation of key heritage features including the Mansion House, Gardener’s Cottage, Coach House, lodges, stone dykes, and other features
  • Improvements to the path network to establish wider circulatory routes and ensure increased accessibility for all users
  • Enhancements to biodiversity through the introduction of woodland wildflower meadows, improvements to lake water quality and management, new native tree and shrub level planting, bulb planting, control of non-native invasive species, enhanced planting to encourage particular wet woodland species, monitoring of species, flora and fauna, as well as improvements through education and interpretation
  • Removal of redundant or inappropriate features
  • The development of environmental, archaeological and heritage related volunteer and staff learning opportunities (including traditional skills workshops, practical archaeology training, woodland and grounds maintenance and opportunities related to biodiversity and the understanding of the local environment)
  • The delivery of the activity plan will create an inclusive, active, and multi-functional green space that helps people to learn about and be involved in their own and other people’s heritage (it will also help to tell the story of Aden through the ages, create a park to experience and enjoy, helping a wide range of people to lead active lives, enjoy the outdoors, and participate in heritage)



Following the delivery of the Aden Restoration & Redevelopment delivery phase, the legacy of successful redevelopment at Aden Country Park will be:

  1. A Park which reflects its Past
    Conserving and enhancing the ‘Essence’ of the park, addressing Conservation Management Plan recommendations, and uncovering its Archaeology for visitors and the local community.
  2. A Park for the Community
    Linking physical works with audience needs and addressing Activity Plan objectives. Maximising opportunities to support the local economy and the variety of social enterprises already underway.
  3. A Park for Health
    Animating the place, broadening appeal, and maximising choices for sustainable access.
  4. A Park for all People & Children
    Creating a diverse range of activity both active and passive. Reinforcing the Park as a place for play, education, and quiet contemplation. Ensuring accessibility for all is established wherever realistically possible.
  5. A Park of benefit to the Environment
    Enhancing Aden’s biodiversity and promoting sustainability throughout. Focusing investment to deliver tangible & sustainable benefits.