Work has begun at Aden Country Park near Mintlaw to make it more accessible after a £375,000 cash boost from VisitScotland.
Renovation of the beautiful Buchan green space will feature improved access to the park’s toilet and parking provisions.
The work comes after Aberdeenshire Council’s successful £375,000 funding application to the VisitScotland rural tourism infrastructure fund.
The Aden project – which is due to be completed in July – will also see the introduction of bicycle stands and eight new electric vehicle charging points aimed at promoting and encouraging low-carbon sustainable transport options.
Aden project years in the making
Managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the fund is used to improve visitors’ experience in rural parts of Scotland.
Pressure on the existing facilities at Aden Country Park has been mounting over the last few years which was exacerbated throughout the pandemic.
With visitor numbers increasing rapidly, the existing park and toilet facilities are now showing the strain of additional use.
Consulting with the Buchan community has helped identify the toilet and parking area as a place to improve upon at Aden Country Park to make it more accessible.
Gillian Martin MSP said: “I am delighted Aden Country Park has received this funding which will greatly improve the experience of people using the park.
“These improvements will increase the provision of facilities particularly for families and carers who may not have the opportunity to do certain activities because of the limited number of Changing Places facilities.
“I am also pleased the time was taken to carry out a consultation with visitors and the wider community to identify what improvements were needed so that changes could be made to toilet provisions and to enhance disabled parking.”
In total, the Accessible Aden RTIF Project will cost £671,779, with RTIF money covering £375,000.
The remaining match funding contributions is from developer obligations, the Buchan Area Committee Grants Scheme, and investment from the Aberdeenshire Council landscape, property and facilities, and transportation services.
What’s next for Aden Country Park?
Further engagement with a local parent and careers accessibility group also helped to inform the need for fully accessible changing places toilet provisions along with improved disabled parking.
Changing places toilet facilities are essential for more than 240,000 disabled people in the UK and their families including people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, muscle-wasting conditions, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, as well as those who have suffered major physical trauma, who have had a head injury or stroke, as well as some older people.
Standard accessible toilets meet the needs of some disabled people but not all and the number of people who need access to Changing Places accessible toilets is increasing rapidly.
Some families and carers are often unable to go out and do the things many of us take for granted because they rely on changing places toilets which are often unavailable.
Councillor Peter Argyle, chairman of the Infrastructure Services Committee, added: “In addition to the vastly-improved toilets facilities, the addition of cycling amenities and new electric vehicle charging points very much dovetail with Aberdeenshire Council’s wider commitment to sustainable transport and active travel options.”