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‘It’s been a long road’: Joy as Stonehaven community garden officially opens to the public

MSP Mairi Gougeon cuts the ribbon to open Stonehaven Community Garden. From left, Dawn Black and Mairi Gougeon. Kath Flannery/DCT Media

Residents and traders in Stonehaven have celebrated the grand opening of a new community garden created to encourage footfall into the centre.

After months of ongoing efforts, the Stonehaven Community Garden was revealed to the public in all its glory at an official ceremony last week.

Dozens gathered at Market Square despite the dreich weather, as MSP for Angus North and Mearns, Mairi Gougeon, cut the red ribbon of the town’s new “lasting legacy”.

As the rain continued to nurture the newly embedded flower beds, local businesses and community groups applauded their achievement in creating an “attractive space for people to meet and enjoy”.

The logo for Stonehaven community garden created by Ian Wood of Creative Core.
Kath Flannery/DCT Media.

Designed by local architect Nicki Ritchie, the garden was inspired by the town’s history and contains attractive sustainable planting and bench seating to encourage locals and visitors to spend time in the town centre.

Stonehaven community garden – an achievement for local community

Dawn Black of the Stonehaven Business Association, which has been at the forefront since the start of the project in May last year, was delighted to see the idea come to life.

She said: “It’s been a long road and no one at the time envisaged just how long that road was going to be. And even now, we are still travelling it.

“It’s been gratifying to see our locals and visitors enjoying the new seating and planting since the barriers came down a few weeks ago. And also, to be able to see the historic Barrie granite fountain more prominently is an added bonus.

The Stonehaven community garden at Market Square.
Kath Flannery/DCT Media

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback and are very happy to have seen this project through to provide Stonehaven town centre with a new civic space – a place to pause, a place to connect, a place to enjoy.

“This project has shown what can be achieved if we, as community groups, work together for a common goal. Let’s do more of that.”

‘Community-led projects have the biggest impact in Aberdeenshire towns’

The initial idea was developed from consultations with local community groups, after Aberdeenshire Council announced the Phoenix Fund in May last year.

The scheme was introduced to help local economies recover from the impact of Covid by providing financial support for collaborative business-led projects in the north-east.

And with the additional funding from the Scottish Government Town Centres Fund, wheels were put in motion to “regenerate” the centre for future generations.

A number of local community groups – including the Stonehaven Town Partnership, the Horizon Project and Stonehaven Community Council – then rolled up their sleeves to bring the plans to fruition.

Ms Gougeon said that it’s community-led initiatives like these that have the biggest impact.

She praised the work put into the “incredible” project adding: “I’m absolutely honoured and delighted to be asked to open the community garden, and even though it was a bit dreich, it’s been a fantastic event with loads of people turning up to show their support.

From left, Architect Nikki Ritchie, MSP Mairi Gougeon, Greig Walker from Bridgefield Services and Dawn Black at the community garden opening. Kath Flannery/DCT Media

“For me, it’s just been amazing to see the transformation of this space.

“It’s such a beautiful and special place in the centre of Stonehaven now and what’s been even greater about this project is the fact that it’s brought together all the different groups in the town.

“It just shows what a difference you can make, when people pull and work together.

“I certainly hope that there is a lot more of this kind of work, because I think it’s just fantastic for the community.”