Following a wide range of development work, 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 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 coordination and securing of match funding.
Development Phase consultation boards on display at the Wild About Aden event
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.
Feedback being gathered during project development phase
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 of 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 includes 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 visitor information 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 the Arrival Courtyard through the improved surfacing will enhance the space for visitors, and 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 artifacts.
- Restoration of the mill pond and lake through the removal of trees to open up views, and 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 Neolithic enclosure, T-Shaped Building, possible stone circle, and late 19th & early 20th century 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:
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.
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.
A Park for Health
Animating the place, broadening appeal, and maximising choices for sustainable access.
A Park for all People & Children
Creating a diverse range of activities 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.
A Park of benefit to the Environment
Enhancing Aden’s biodiversity and promoting sustainability throughout. Focusing investment to deliver tangible & sustainable benefits.