An old vinery will be brought back to life after councillors agreed to lease it to a north-east social enterprise.
Aberdeen Foyer will take over the derelict vinery buildings in Banff and use it as a gardening and growing project for the community.
Members of the Banff and Buchan area committee approved the 25-year lease of the Airlie Gardens site today.
Work to restore the bothy and glasshouse, known locally as the orangery, into a community facility will start soon.
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.
And Aberdeen Foyer – who stepped in to ensure the community benefits after the Scotland’s Association for Mental Health was forced to pull out of the project due to Covid uncertainty – is looking forward to getting started.
The charity will work with NesCol and other groups to provide well-being support, qualifications to people of all ages while creating a space for the wider community to enjoy.
‘Strong desire’ to retain building’s character
Banff and Buchan area committee chairwoman Doreen Mair said: “The consultation feedback clearly demonstrated that there is a strong desire to see retention of the building’s traditional character and full public accessibility which, of course, is our intention.”
Aberdeen Foyer hope to create “a place where all young people and adults can be who they want to be regardless of the challenges they face today and where everyone has the right to work, learn and have a safe place to live as a valued member of their local community.”
The project is an important part of the Banff Vision and Action Plan, creating opportunities for children, young people and families to take part in valuable health and wellbeing activities.
Local councillor and chairman of the Banff Development Partnership, Glen Reynolds, said he was pleased the project had taken another step forward, adding: “It was absolutely the right thing to do to seek a project led by an organisation such as the Aberdeen Foyer who have a breadth of vision to ensure that this site is transformed into a project fit for the needs and demands of a post pandemic world.
“As an initiative at the gateway to the town, it symbolises the inclusivity so important to the recovery of the area, addressing the mental health and wellbeing of not just Banff but the surroundings of Macduff and elsewhere.”
Following funding from the Scottish Government, works are under way and are expected to be completed by next March.