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Archaeolink site set for new role

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Plans to give a mothballed north-east pre-history park a new lease of life are inching closer to reality.

The Archaeolink Centre at Oyne closed in 2011 after Aberdeenshire Council withdrew all funding and has remained shut ever since.

The venture was labelled a “white elephant” by critics and £2.5million in council subsidies were poured into the site during the 14 years it was open.

Oyne Community Association have previously revealed their intentions to take over the former pre-history park via a Community Asset Transfer (CAT).

But a steering group for the Garioch area committee rejected it because they felt the value of the site and the potential capital receipt outweighed the community benefit.

A development bid that could include up to 10 houses on the site and mixed business use for the centre is currently being considered for potential inclusion in the next local development plan.

Yesterday – at a meeting of the Garioch area committee – the disposal of the Archaeolink site was discussed in private because of confidential information contained in the contracts before the members.

A final decision has not been taken however, and the matter will be discussed again at the next meeting of the committee.

Inverurie councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes said: “There is provision in the local development plan for housing and employment land.

“We are making sure that we are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s in terms of disposing of the site.

“We want to make sure we meet the aspirations of the area committee are met in determining that.”

The prehistory park was immediately labelled a white elephant by critics when it opened in 1997, who questioned claims the £4million site could attract its predicted 100,000 visitors a year.

Numbers had plummeted to an annual 10,500 by the time it closed on April 1, 2011, after Aberdeenshire Council withdrew its £135,000-a-year subsidy – which equated to £13 for each person going through its doors.

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